Black Jobless Rate Still Nation’s Highest

In April the rate was 11.6 percent, down from 12.4 percent the previous month.

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Job seekers wait in line at Kennedy-King College on Nov. 9, 2012, to attend an employment fair hosted by the city of Chicago.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The unemployment rate among African Americans is nearly double the national rate, even as the economy appears to be improving.

Unemployment among blacks was 11.6 percent in April, down from 12.4 percent in March, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor. But even with that improvement, blacks lagged behind the rest of the nation, as the overall national unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent, the lowest since 2008, when Barack Obama was elected to his first term as president.

While the black unemployment rate is down from a high of about 13.1 percent in April 2013, the fact that African Americans have not seen the same job gains as the rest of the country has been a persistent problem for President Obama. The black community is a crucial part of the president’s political base, but some leaders and voters are disappointed about the bleak economic circumstances of many African Americans.

The employment disparity between blacks and whites long precedes the Obama presidency, dating back to at least 1954, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting the data. But Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, said the disparity today is “an economic crisis in black America.”

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