Economic Indicators | Jobs and Unemployment

Economic recovery for black and Latino workers expands to more states in the second quarter of 2016

Press release

Analyses of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity for the most recent quarter build on the monthly state employment numbers by showing state-by-state improvements in prospects for black and Latino workers, yet continued high unemployment relative to whites.

Those monthly numbers, from the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary,” showed that the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in June, little changed since the end of the second quarter in March.

According to an earlier EPI analysis, from March 2016 to June 2016, 24 states and the District of Columbia saw their unemployment rates decline, while 21 states saw unemployment rates rise. In most cases, higher unemployment rates were accompanied by increased labor force participation, suggesting that at least some of the increase in unemployment could be the result of discouraged job-seekers returning to the market. Although job growth was fairly widespread across the country during the second quarter of 2016, conditions continued to vary greatly across states and across racial and ethnic groups. In June, state unemployment rates ranged from a high of 6.7 percent in Alaska to a low of 2.7 percent in South Dakota. Nationally, African Americans had the highest unemployment rate in June, at 8.6 percent, followed by Latinos (5.8 percent), whites (4.4 percent), and Asians (3.5 percent).

State unemployment rates, by race and ethnicity

Following is an overview of state unemployment rates and rate gaps by race and ethnicity for the second quarter of 2016. We provide this analysis on a quarterly basis to generate a sample size large enough to create reliable estimates of unemployment rates by race and ethnicity at the state level.  We only report estimates for states for which the sample size of these subgroups is large enough to create an accurate estimate.

Trends among whites

In the second quarter of 2016, the white unemployment rate was lowest in South Dakota (1.1 percent) and highest in West Virginia (6.3 percent), as shown in the interactive map of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.  South Dakota also had the lowest white unemployment rate in the preceding three quarters, while West Virginia has had the highest white unemployment rate for five consecutive quarters.

Interactive Map

State unemployment rates, by race/ethnicity and overall, 2016Q2

State All White Black Hispanic Asian
USA 4.9% 4.0% 8.5% 5.7% 3.6%
Alabama 6.0% 4.2% 11.2% NA NA
Alaska 6.7% 5.1% NA NA NA
Arizona 5.6% 4.6% NA 7.3% NA
Arkansas 3.8% 2.7% 8.5% NA NA
California 5.3% 4.3% 8.6% 6.5% 3.8%
Colorado 3.4% 2.4% NA 5.5% NA
Connecticut 5.7% 4.4% NA NA NA
Delaware 4.2% 3.4% 6.4% NA NA
District of Columbia 6.2% 1.7% 12.5% 3.5% NA
Florida 4.7% 4.0% 8.2% 4.3% 3.2%
Georgia 5.3% 3.8% 8.1% 3.6% NA
Hawaii 3.2% 4.8% NA NA 2.8%
Idaho 3.7% 3.5% NA 5.1% NA
Illinois 6.4% 4.8% 15.0% 7.5% 3.5%
Indiana 5.0% 4.5% 9.6% NA NA
Iowa 3.9% 3.4% NA NA NA
Kansas 3.8% 3.1% NA 5.0% NA
Kentucky 5.2% 4.7% NA NA NA
Louisiana 6.3% 4.3% 10.8% NA NA
Maine 3.5% 3.5% NA NA NA
Maryland 4.5% 2.5% 8.1% NA NA
Massachusetts 4.2% 3.7% NA 8.5% 2.9%
Michigan 4.7% 3.8% 9.3% NA NA
Minnesota 3.8% 2.9% NA NA NA
Mississippi 5.9% 4.7% 7.9% NA NA
Missouri 4.4% 3.9% 8.2% NA NA
Montana 4.2% 4.0% NA NA NA
Nebraska 3.0% 2.4% NA NA NA
Nevada 6.1% 4.3% NA 6.9% 6.5%
New Hampshire 2.7% 2.7% NA NA NA
New Jersey 4.9% 4.4% 7.4% 5.8% 2.8%
New Mexico 6.2% 3.4% NA 5.8% NA
New York 4.8% 3.8% 6.7% 6.5% 4.5%
North Carolina 5.1% 3.9% 8.9% 4.5% NA
North Dakota 3.2% 2.6% NA NA NA
Ohio 5.1% 4.4% 10.3% NA NA
Oklahoma 4.7% 3.6% NA 5.5% NA
Oregon 4.6% 4.3% NA 5.9% NA
Pennsylvania 5.5% 4.4% 12.3% 12.0% NA
Rhode Island 5.4% 4.5% NA NA NA
South Carolina 5.6% 4.8% 8.4% NA NA
South Dakota 2.6% 1.1% NA NA NA
Tennessee 4.2% 3.4% 8.0% NA NA
Texas 4.4% 3.8% 6.1% 4.5% 4.6%
Utah 3.8% 3.9% NA 3.3% NA
Vermont 3.2% 3.0% NA NA NA
Virginia 3.8% 3.0% 7.2% 2.7% NA
Washington 5.8% 5.2% NA 7.7% 3.7%
West Virginia 6.2% 6.3% NA NA NA
Wisconsin 4.3% 3.9% NA NA NA
Wyoming 5.6% 5.4% NA NA NA
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Note: The map only reports unemployment rates for state subgroups with sample sizes large enough to create accurate estimates.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data and Current Population Survey (CPS) data

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Table 1 displays changes in state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2016. Wyoming is the state where the white unemployment rate in the second quarter was most elevated above its prerecession level—2.8 percentage points higher than in the fourth quarter of 2007. On the other hand, the white unemployment rate was at or below its prerecession level in half the country, specifically in Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the same number of states that had reached this milestone in the last quarter, although some of the states on the list have changed.  The white unemployment rate was within 0.5 percentage points of its prerecession level in another 15 states.

Table 1

Change in state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity, 2007Q4–2016Q2 (percentage points)

State White Black Hispanic Asian
USA 0.0 -0.1 -0.2 0.1
Alabama 0.6 4.9 NA NA
Alaska 0.5 NA NA NA
Arizona 1.3 NA 1.4 NA
Arkansas -2.0 -0.4 NA NA
California -0.4 -1.4 -0.6 -1.0
Colorado -1.1 NA 0.2 NA
Connecticut 0.9 NA NA NA
Delaware 0.5 1.5 NA NA
District of Columbia 0.0 2.7 NA NA
Florida 0.0 1.8 -1.5 NA
Georgia 0.5 0.0 -3.5 NA
Hawaii 0.7 NA NA 0.3
Idaho 0.4 NA NA NA
Illinois 0.4 2.7 1.8 0.1
Indiana 0.2 -1.8 NA NA
Iowa 0.0 NA NA NA
Kansas -0.6 NA NA NA
Kentucky -0.3 NA NA NA
Louisiana 1.9 2.1 NA NA
Maine -1.3 NA NA NA
Maryland -0.4 2.5 NA NA
Massachusetts -0.9 NA NA NA
Michigan -2.4 -6.3 NA NA
Minnesota -1.2 NA NA NA
Mississippi 1.0 -2.4 NA NA
Missouri -0.6 -3.6 NA NA
Montana 0.3 NA NA NA
Nebraska -0.3 NA NA NA
Nevada 0.1 NA 0.4 3.5
New Hampshire -0.8 NA NA NA
New Jersey 0.5 -1.0 0.6 0.5
New Mexico 0.1 NA 1.3 NA
New York 0.1 -1.2 -0.5 1.2
North Carolina -0.1 0.7 -1.9 NA
North Dakota 0.5 NA NA NA
Ohio -0.2 -3.3 NA NA
Oklahoma 0.6 NA NA NA
Oregon -1.1 NA NA NA
Pennsylvania 0.1 5.1 NA NA
Rhode Island -0.8 NA NA NA
South Carolina 1.1 -2.7 NA NA
South Dakota -0.9 NA NA NA
Tennessee -1.1 -1.5 NA NA
Texas 0.4 -1.8 0.0 1.6
Utah 1.3 NA -0.6 NA
Vermont -1.2 NA NA NA
Virginia -0.1 1.9 -1.0 NA
Washington 0.3 NA 1.8 -0.1
West Virginia 1.6 NA NA NA
Wisconsin -0.4 NA NA NA
Wyoming 2.8 NA NA NA

Note: The table only reports data for state subgroups with sample sizes large enough to create accurate estimates.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data and Current Population Survey (CPS) data

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Trends among African Americans

During the second quarter of 2016, the African American unemployment rate was lowest in Texas (6.1 percent) and highest in Illinois (15.0 percent). Illinois has had the highest black unemployment rate for three consecutive quarters.  Since the fourth quarter of 2015, the black unemployment rate in Illinois has risen 1.9 percentage points as unemployment has increased 0.7 percentage points statewide. Seventeen states had African American unemployment rates below 10 percent in the second quarter of 2016—in 13 of these states, the rate was equal to or lower than the second quarter national average for African Americans (8.5 percent).

Table 2 displays the ratios between the black and white unemployment rates, and the Hispanic and white unemployment rates in the second quarter of 2016. As the table shows, Texas had the smallest black–white unemployment rate gap in the country. In that state, the black unemployment rate was 1.6 times the white rate, down from 1.8 times the white rate during the previous quarter. This change was due to a small decline in the state’s black unemployment rate at the same time that the state’s white unemployment rate increased slightly. The largest gaps were in the District of Columbia,  where the black unemployment rate was 7.3 times the white rate, and Maryland, where the black unemployment rate was 3.3 times the white rate.

Table 2

Black–white and Hispanic–white state unemployment rate ratios, 2016Q2

State Black-white ratio Hispanic-white ratio
USA 2.2 1.4
Alabama 2.7  NA
Alaska  NA  NA
Arizona  NA 1.6
Arkansas 3.2  NA
California 2.0 1.5
Colorado  NA 2.3
Connecticut  NA  NA
Delaware 1.9  NA
District of Columbia 7.3 2.0
Florida 2.0 1.1
Georgia 2.1 0.9
Hawaii  NA  NA
Idaho  NA 1.5
Illinois 3.1 1.6
Indiana 2.1  NA
Iowa  NA  NA
Kansas  NA 1.6
Kentucky  NA  NA
Louisiana 2.5  NA
Maine  NA  NA
Maryland 3.3  NA
Massachusetts  NA 2.3
Michigan 2.5  NA
Minnesota  NA  NA
Mississippi 1.7  NA
Missouri 2.1  NA
Montana  NA  NA
Nebraska  NA  NA
Nevada  NA 1.6
New Hampshire  NA  NA
New Jersey 1.7 1.3
New Mexico  NA 1.7
New York 1.7 1.7
North Carolina 2.3 1.2
North Dakota  NA  NA
Ohio 2.4  NA
Oklahoma  NA 1.5
Oregon  NA 1.4
Pennsylvania 2.8 2.8
Rhode Island  NA  NA
South Carolina 1.7  NA
South Dakota  NA  NA
Tennessee 2.4  NA
Texas 1.6 1.2
Utah  NA 0.9
Vermont  NA  NA
Virginia 2.4 0.9
Washington  NA 1.5
West Virginia  NA  NA
Wisconsin  NA  NA
Wyoming  NA  NA

Note: The table only reports data for state subgroups with sample sizes large enough to create accurate estimates.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) data and Current Population Survey (CPS) data

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With regard to recovery, the African American unemployment rate in the second quarter was at or below its prerecession level in 13 states—four more states than during the first quarter. The states are Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. But this numerical “recovery” must be put in proper context because with the exceptions of Texas, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and Tennessee, each of these states also had black unemployment rates that were among the highest in the nation before the recession. Still, of the states with black unemployment rates back to precession levels, only California, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio had black unemployment rates higher than the second quarter average for blacks, nationally (8.5 percent). The black unemployment rate was within 0.7 percentage points of its prerecession level in North Carolina. The black unemployment rate remains most elevated above its prerecession level in Pennsylvania and Alabama (5.1 and 4.9 percentage points higher, respectively). Before the recession, the African American unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in Pennsylvania and 6.3 percent in Alabama.

Trends among Hispanics

In the second quarter of 2016, the Hispanic unemployment rate was highest in Pennsylvania (12.0 percent) and lowest in Virginia (2.7 percent).  This reflects a rise in the Hispanic unemployment rate in Pennsylvania from the first quarter, and the replacement by Virginia of North Carolina, which had the lowest state Hispanic unemployment rate in the first quarter.

The Hispanic unemployment rate is at or below its prerecession level in eight states: California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The Hispanic unemployment rate is within 0.5 percentage points of its prerecession level in Colorado and Nevada. In the fourth quarter of 2007, Florida, Texas, Utah and Virginia had Hispanic unemployment rates lower than the national average among Hispanics—a distinction they continue to hold, indicating a more meaningful recovery.  The Hispanic unemployment rate was most elevated above its prerecession level in Washington and Illinois (1.8 percentage points higher each).

The Hispanic unemployment rate is lower than the white rate in Georgia, Utah, and Virginia (with a Hispanic–white unemployment rate ratio of 0.9), while the Hispanic–white unemployment rate gap is largest in Pennsylvania, where the Hispanic unemployment rate is 2.8 times the white rate.  This ratio is up from the previous quarter (1.8) as a result of a much larger increase in the Hispanic unemployment rate than the white unemployment rate.

Trends among Asians

The Asian unemployment rate was lowest in Hawaii and New Jersey (2.8 percent) and highest in Nevada (6.5 percent) in the second quarter of 2016. Hawaii and New Jersey were also the states with the lowest Asian unemployment rates during the first quarter of 2016. The Asian unemployment rate remains most elevated above prerecession levels in Nevada (3.5 percentage points). The Asian unemployment rate was below the prerecession levels in California and Washington, and within 0.5 percentage points of the prerecession levels in Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Methodology

The unemployment rate estimates in this economic indicator are based on the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The overall state unemployment rate is taken directly from the LAUS. CPS six-month ratios are applied to LAUS data to calculate the rates by race and ethnicity. For each state subgroup, we calculate the unemployment rate using the past six months of CPS data. We then find the ratio of this subgroup rate to the state unemployment rate using the same period of CPS data. This gives us an estimate of how the subgroup compares with the state overall.

While this methodology allows us to calculate unemployment-rate estimates at the state level by race by quarter, it is less precise at the national level than simply using the CPS. Thus, the national-level estimates may differ from direct CPS estimates.

In many states, the sample sizes of these subgroups are not large enough to create an accurate estimate of their unemployment rates. We only report data for groups that had, on average, a sample size of at least 700 in the labor force for each six-month period.


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