Economic Snapshot

Unemployment for young black grads is still worse than it was for young white grads in the aftermath of the recession

The black unemployment rate is typically twice as high as the white unemployment rate, and African Americans are often the last to feel the economic benefits during a recovery. These realities are reflected in the fact that the unemployment rate for young black graduates is still worse today than it ever was for whites in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Young black college graduates (age 24–29) currently have an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent—higher than the peak unemployment rate for young white college graduates during the recovery (9.0 percent). Young blacks with only a high-school degree (age 17–20) face a grimmer picture: an unemployment rate of 28.4 percent, which is also higher than the peak unemployment rate for white high-school graduates during the recovery (25.9 percent).

Economic Snapshot

Unemployment for young black grads is still worse than it was for young white grads in the recession’s aftermath: Current unemployment rate and post-recession peak unemployment rate by race and educational attainment

Peak  Current
White high school 25.90% 14.60%
Black high school 42.00% 28.40%
White college 9.00% 4.70%
Black college 20.70% 9.40%

 

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Peak data for white high school grads reflects 12-month moving average ending in June 2010; for black high school grads, ending in January 2011; for black college grads, ending in August 2011; and for white college grads, ending in September 2011.

Source: EPI analysis of basic monthly Current Population Survey microdata

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Since these young graduates have the same basic degree and are in the same labor market position as their peers (whether high school or college), one would hope there would be little disparity in the unemployment rates of each group. The fact that having an equivalent amount of education and a virtual blank slate of prior professional work experience still does not generate parity in unemployment across race is evidence that factors such as discrimination, or unequal access to the informal networks that often lead to job opportunities are in play.


See more work by Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke