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Black worker unemployment much higher than national average in 2011

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 17, 2012

CONTACT: Rebecca Graham, 510‐642-9187,

Berkeley — A new report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that throughout 2011, Black worker unemployment remained in the 15 to 16 percent range, while unemployment for the rest of the workforce dropped below 9 percent.

The U.S. added 1.6 million jobs this year, but unemployment rates for Black workers remain higher than they were during the Great Recession.  Source: Steven Pitts, UC Berkeley Labor Center

“Annual Report: Black Employment and Unemployment in 2011”, is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey.

“The jobs gap between black and white workers is a story that we’ve seen for more than  50 years, but this report shows that unemployment rates for Black workers have not fallen as much as they have for their white and Latino counterparts,” said Steven Pitts, a labor policy specialist at the center and author of the report.

Pitts also noted that “current unemployment rates for Black workers are still higher than in June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and well above December 2007, when the downturn began.”
(see charts, right)

The report’s main findings include:

  • There was virtually no change in the official Black unemployment rate from January to December 2011. When Black women and Black men are examined separately, however, Black female unemployment rates rose, while Black male unemployment rates fell. This differs from the situation of white workers, where the unemployment rates for both men and women fell.

  • Since the Great Recession ended in June 2009, Black female unemployment rates have risen and Black male unemployment rates have fallen only slightly. In contrast, unemployment rates for white men and white women fell over the same time period.

The report can be found online.

Steven Pitts, Ph.D.

Center for Labor Research and Education
2521 Channing Way # 5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555
TEL (510) 642-0323    FAX (510) 642-6432

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