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On Friday the unemployment rate fell from 13.3% to 11.1% as employers continue to rehire staff. But the economic impacts of the pandemic are still hitting communities of color harder than white Americans: The jobless rate among white workers is 10.1%, compared with 13.8% for Asian workers, and 14.5% for Hispanic workers. The jobless rate is highest among Black workers at 15.4%.
But this racial economic divide also highlights the fact that the job market has always been unequal for Hispanic and Black Americans. The unemployment rate among Black workers has topped 10% in 405 months, or 69.6% of the time, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started calculating it in 1972. Meanwhile, the white unemployment rate has topped double digits in only three months during that same period, or 0.5% of the time.
The unemployment rate among Hispanic or Latino workers has topped double digits 190 times, or 33.5% of the months since March 1973 when the BLS started calculating that rate. And since 2000, when the BLS started calculating an unemployment rate among Asian workers, it has topped double digits on three occasions, or 1.2% of months during that period.
The three months in which the white jobless rate topped double digits all occurred since the onset of the 2020 pandemic. The current 11.1% unemployment rate is just below the average unemployment rate for Black Americans since 1972 of 11.4%.
However, workers who have lost jobs during the pandemic have felt the effects blunted somewhat by the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits, which are set to expire at the end of July.
Since March, the economic pain has continued to be unevenly spread. Some 24% of Black workers say they have lost their jobs, and another 31% have seen cuts to their hours or pay, finds a Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll of 4,109 U.S. adults, conducted between May 20 and May 26. In comparison, 11% of white workers have lost their jobs, and 28% have experienced cuts to their hours or pay.