Black Women Hit Hard by Unemployment

About 10.6 percent of those age 20 or older are out of work, a figure unchanged from a year ago.

Job seekers wait in line at Kennedy-King College in Chicago on Nov. 9, 2012, to attend a job fair hosted by the city.  
Job seekers wait in line at Kennedy-King College in Chicago on Nov. 9, 2012, to attend a job fair hosted by the city.   Scott Olson/Getty Images

While unemployment rates have fallen for nearly every group of Americans after the most recent recession, there appears to be no reprieve for black women.

An estimated 10.6 percent of black women age 20 or older are unemployed, a figure unchanged from a year ago, International Business Times reports, citing Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department. The overall unemployment rate for blacks in August was 11.4 percent, compared with 5.3 percent for whites and 7.5 percent for Hispanics.

The rate for all adult women edged down to 5.7 percent from 6.2 percent a year ago, while unemployment for adult Hispanic women rose to 8.1 percent from 7.7 percent, the report says. For single mothers the number rose to 9.3 percent from 9.1 percent last year. Unemployment for adult African-American men fell to 10.8 percent from 13.4 percent a year ago.

While black men suffered more job losses than black women during the recession, the report notes, black women continued to lose jobs during the recovery while black men regained jobs. Between June 2009 and June 2011, black women lost 258,000 jobs, while black men gained 127,000 jobs, according to government data.

And although black women represented 12.5 percent of all American female workers in June 2009, in the two years following, black women accounted for more than 42 percent of jobs lost by all women, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

The high unemployment numbers for black women are due in part to a concentration of jobs in the services and government sectors. The services sector was hit hard during the recession, and local, state and federal government agencies also trimmed their payrolls during that period of austerity, the report says.

“Black women had the highest percentage of employment in the public sector compared to other race/ethnic groups (including white women),” Niki Dickerson VonLockette, an associate professor of labor and employment relations and sociology at Pennsylvania State University, told IBT in an email. “Because of black women’s concentration in these jobs, our research showed their employment was most heavily affected by these changes.”

Read more at International Business Times.

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