North Carolina has the fourth highest African American unemployment rate among the states with large enough black populations to measure unemployment, a new Economic Policy Institute Issue Brief finds. In Ongoing Joblessness in North Carolina: Unemployment rate for African Americans fourth in nation, more than double the state’s white rate, EPI researchers Douglas Hall and Mary Gable find that the African American unemployment rate in North Carolina was 17.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, more than two-and-a-half times that of the white unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. Furthermore, though the state’s Hispanic unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is not nearly as high as the African American unemployment rate, it is still higher than the white unemployment rate.
Several factors have exacerbated the effects of the recession on North Carolina’s working families. Federal and state budget cuts have disproportionately affected African American and Hispanic workers in the state. Likewise, because African Americans have historically been overrepresented in public-sector employment, state and local public-sector job losses have hit them the hardest. Further, the long-term decline in manufacturing in North Carolina, which has the second highest rate of manufacturing job loss since 1995 among all states for which Bureau of Labor Statistics data are available, has dealt a serious blow to workers—white, black and Hispanic—statewide.