Job seekers line up to meet with a recruiter during a job fair at the Alameda County Office of Education on April 24, 2013, in Hayward, Calif. Six years later, U.S. unemployment numbers are at their lowest levels in five decades, but black unemployment remains almost 90 percent higher than that of almost every other group in the nation.
Photo: Getty

Headlines have been heralding the nation having the lowest unemployment rate in almost 50 years, but the jobless rate for black people is almost 90 percent higher than the national rate and higher than every other racial demographic in the nation.

The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.6 percent in April, the lowest level since December 1969. But for black folks, the jobless rate was 6.7 percent, 86 percent higher.

The reasons are complex and well-known: higher incarceration rates for black Americans, with prospective job applicants with records less desired by employers, as well as ongoing de facto segregation when it comes to blacks often being regulated to neighborhoods with poorer educational opportunities and housing and transportation options.

As Camille M. Busette, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, explained to 24/7 Wall St., in addition to impacting education and lifestyle, such segregation also has consequences regarding employment.

Advertisement

“People are not walking around, working together, going to school together, taking the same metro together, et cetera. So there isn’t a lot of familiarity,” Busette said. “People tend to hire people like themselves, so when you get residential segregation, you tend to also get employment segregation.”

Now, much of this is known by black Americans who are living this every day. Perhaps the bigger question, especially as black Americans, like all Americans, look to head to the voting booths next year, is what legislative policy changes can be made to address the issues that continue to negatively impact black communities.