Economic Indicators

Economic Indicators State unemployment by race and ethnicity

The second half of 2020 was marked by protests against police brutality, a rising death toll from COVID-19, and a historic general election. The economy began its slow recovery from the worst of the pandemic-induced recession, with financial markets showing particular strength—however, the labor market showed rising racial inequality, underlining just how disparate experiences of the recovery have been.


Key numbers • 2020 Q3 & Q4

Penn. Highest black unemployment rate in Q3 (19.5%) and Q4 (16.5%)
Hawaii Highest white and AAPI unemployment rates in Q3 (13.9% and 14.7%, respectively) and Q4 (both at 11.6%)
Wash. Lowest AAPI unemployment rate in Q3 (6.1%) and Q4 (4.7%)
D.C. Largest Black–white unemployment ratio in Q3 (4.5-to-1) and Q4 (4-to-1)
2020 Q3 & Q4 • Updated March 2021

Latest data: Black–white gaps widened and Hispanic–white gaps persisted as unemployment rates dropped overall

By Kyle K. Moore

EPI analyzes state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity, and racial/ethnic unemployment rate gaps, 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 report estimates only for states for which the sample size of these subgroups is large enough to create an accurate estimate. For this reason, the number of states included in our maps and data tables varies based on the analysis performed. The following analysis contains data on the final two quarters of 2020.

Our analysis of third- and fourth-quarter 2020 data finds slow and differing recovery paths across racial/ethnic groups. While the Hispanic–white ratio remained relatively stable at around 1.6 across both periods, the Black–white ratio continued its rise back toward its historical 2-to-1 trend. That is, while unemployment rates fell for all groups over the third and fourth quarters, Hispanic unemployment remained 60% higher than white unemployment, while Black unemployment rose from 60% higher to 90% higher.

Third-quarter state unemployment rates, trends, and ratios

In the third quarter of 2020, during a summer rocked by anti–police brutality protests and amid an ongoing public health and economic crisis, unemployment rates remained above 10% for all racial/ethnic groups except white Americans. That said, there were marked improvements in unemployment rates compared with the second quarter, now recognized as the unemployment peak for this pandemic-induced recession. (See supplemental map and tables at the end of this report for second-quarter data.)

Interactive Map

State unemployment rates, by race/ethnicity and overall, 2020Q3

State All White Black Hispanic AAPI
USA 8.8% 7.3% 11.9% 11.3% 10.1%
Alabama 6.7% 5.0% 10.5% NA NA
Alaska 8.7% 6.5% NA NA NA
Arizona 7.8% 6.8% NA 8.6% NA
Arkansas 7.3% 6.6% 11.5% NA NA
California 11.9% 10.3% 14.7% 13.0% 11.8%
Colorado 6.8% 5.7% NA 9.7% NA
Connecticut 8.7% 7.7% NA NA NA
Delaware 9.2% 8.1% 11.2% NA NA
Washington D.C. 8.6% 3.5% 15.6% NA NA
Florida 8.8% 7.0% 11.2% 10.4% NA
Georgia 6.6% 5.1% 8.0% 7.8% NA
Hawaii 13.9% 13.9% NA NA 14.7%
Idaho 5.1% 4.4% NA 8.7% NA
Illinois 10.9% 9.2% 15.7% 14.2% 8.0%
Indiana 6.8% 6.0% NA NA NA
Iowa 5.9% 5.3% NA NA NA
Kansas 6.7% 6.2% NA NA NA
Kentucky 5.9% 5.5% NA NA NA
Louisiana 8.4% 6.9% 10.9% NA NA
Maine 7.7% 7.5% NA NA NA
Maryland 7.3% 6.0% 8.7% NA NA
Massachusetts 12.4% 10.4% NA 21.4% 11.2%
Michigan 8.6% 7.3% 17.9% NA NA
Minnesota 7.0% 6.1% NA NA NA
Mississippi 8.1% 6.6% 10.5% NA NA
Missouri 6.3% 5.8% 9.2% NA NA
Montana 5.9% 5.3% NA NA NA
Nebraska 4.1% 3.6% NA NA NA
Nevada 13.4% 10.0% NA 16.4% NA
New Hampshire 6.9% 6.3% NA NA NA
New Jersey 10.7% 9.5% 13.6% 12.8% 9.3%
New Mexico 11.2% 9.8% NA 11.8% NA
New York 12.7% 10.0% 14.0% 19.1% 15.8%
North Carolina 7.4% 6.8% 9.1% 9.5% NA
North Dakota 5.3% 4.9% NA NA NA
Ohio 8.8% 7.5% 14.2% NA NA
Oklahoma 6.0% 4.9% NA NA NA
Oregon 9.0% 9.0% NA 9.0% NA
Pennsylvania 10.3% 8.5% 19.5% NA NA
Rhode Island 11.6% 10.4% NA NA NA
South Carolina 6.7% 5.7% 9.7% NA NA
South Dakota 5.1% 3.7% NA NA NA
Tennessee 8.2% 7.0% 12.2% NA NA
Texas 7.7% 5.5% 11.4% 9.1% 8.1%
Utah 4.5% 4.4% NA 4.7% NA
Vermont 5.8% 5.4% NA NA NA
Virginia 6.7% 4.8% 9.4% 9.7% NA
Washington 8.8% 8.3% NA 9.9% 6.1%
West Virginia 9.2% 9.0% NA NA NA
Wisconsin 6.3% 5.5% NA NA NA
Wyoming 6.6% 6.2% NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The map reports unemployment rates only 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 white workers

In the third quarter of 2020, the white unemployment rate was 7.3%, still up 4.2 percentage points relative to what we now recognize was the peak of the previous economic recovery in March 2020. Unemployment remained at or above 10% in six states for white workers, with those in Hawaii facing the highest rates, at 13.9%, likely due to the significant blow the pandemic dealt to the tourism and hospitality industries. White unemployment in Hawaii remained up 10.8 percentage points from March 2020. The remaining five states where unemployment remained at or above 10% for white workers were California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Rhode Island.

Consistent with historical trends, the white unemployment rate was lowest in the District of Columbia, with a rate of 3.5%. White workers in the District make up a disproportionate share of its federal government workforce, and federal employment in D.C. accounts for nearly a fifth (18%) of D.C. employment overall. The federal government is one of the few industries whose employment increased throughout the pandemic.1 Though their unemployment rate did rise (from 2.0% in the first quarter), white workers in our nation’s capital were largely shielded from the worst employment effects of the pandemic recession, demonstrating the efficacy of federal employment for dampening negative economic shocks.2 However, the fact that this insulation is so skewed toward white workers underlines the extreme inequality inherent in D.C.’s labor market.

Table 1

Change in state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity from 2020Q1 to 2020Q3 (percentage points)

State White Black Hispanic AAPI
United States 4.2 5.6 6.5 7.1
Alabama 2.1 6.9 NA NA
Alaska 2.7 NA NA NA
Arizona 2.9 NA 3.9 NA
Arkansas 3.0 6.3 NA NA
California 6.9 8.7 7.6 8.8
Colorado 3.0 NA 5.5 NA
Connecticut 4.3 NA NA NA
Delaware 4.8 3.2 NA NA
District of Columbia 1.5 4.4 NA NA
Florida 4.3 4.8 7.6 NA
Georgia 2.9 2.8 4.4 NA
Hawaii 10.8 NA NA 12.3
Idaho 1.9 NA 5.2 NA
Illinois 6.1 9.0 9.0 6.4
Indiana 3.2 NA NA NA
Iowa 3.0 NA NA NA
Kansas 3.3 NA NA NA
Kentucky 0.8 NA NA NA
Louisiana 3.4 0.9 NA NA
Maine 4.6 NA NA NA
Maryland 3.7 2.6 NA NA
Massachusetts 7.8 NA 17.5 9.7
Michigan 4.1 10.8 NA NA
Minnesota 3.2 NA NA NA
Mississippi 3.3 1.4 NA NA
Missouri 2.3 2.9 NA NA
Montana 2.1 NA NA NA
Nebraska 1.0 NA NA NA
Nevada 5.9 NA 11.8 NA
New Hampshire 3.9 NA NA NA
New Jersey 6.9 6.7 8.2 4.8
New Mexico 6.0 NA 6.4 NA
New York 6.5 8.5 13.5 13.6
North Carolina 3.9 3.5 2.9 NA
North Dakota 2.9 NA NA NA
Ohio 4.2 5.1 NA NA
Oklahoma 2.4 NA NA NA
Oregon 5.4 NA 6.0 NA
Pennsylvania 4.4 9.3 NA NA
Rhode Island 7.2 NA NA NA
South Carolina 3.7 5.9 NA NA
South Dakota 2.0 NA NA NA
Tennessee 4.6 4.9 NA NA
Texas 2.7 5.7 4.2 5.4
Utah 1.7 NA 2.0 NA
Vermont 2.7 NA NA NA
Virginia 2.5 4.6 6.1 NA
Washington 4.8 NA 3.1 2.6
West Virginia 4.0 NA NA NA
Wisconsin 2.9 NA NA NA
Wyoming 3.2 NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The table reports data only 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 Black workers

While a multiracial coalition of activists took to the streets to protest racial inequality throughout America’s criminal justice, political, and economic systems, Black workers continued to face a disproportionate share of the pandemic’s economic and public health burden, with an unemployment rate 5.6 percentage points greater than the pre-pandemic economic peak. Black workers faced unemployment rates of over 10% in 16 of the 22 states (including the District of Columbia) for which unemployment data for Black workers was available. Unemployment rates were highest for Black workers in Pennsylvania (19.5%), Michigan (17.9%), Illinois (15.7%) and the District of Columbia (15.6%). Black workers were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers in the District of Columbia and four states: Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

The case of the District deserves special mention. The Black–white unemployment ratio was 4.5 in 2020Q3—that is, Black workers were 4.5 times as likely to be unemployed in our nation’s capital as white workers. D.C. has long outstripped the rest of the country in its Black–white unemployment ratio, which has spiked as high as 8.5 in recent years3—reflecting extreme inequality and marked occupational segregation in the District.4 That occupational segregation brought harsh pandemic outcomes for Black workers in D.C., who are disproportionately employed in occupations without access to the telework options that protected white workers from both the economic and the health shocks of the pandemic.5

Among states with available data, the unemployment rate for Black workers was lowest in Georgia, with a rate of 8.0%. The Black–white unemployment ratio in Georgia matched the national average at 1.6. North Carolina saw the lowest Black–white unemployment ratio in 2020Q3, with Black workers there 30% more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. In no state was the unemployment ratio less than or equal to 1 in 2020Q3—that is, there were no states where Black and white workers were equally likely to be unemployed, nor were there states where Black workers were less likely to be unemployed than white workers.

Table 2

Black–white and Hispanic–white state unemployment rate ratios, 2020Q3

State Black–white ratio Hispanic–white ratio
United States 1.6 1.6
Alabama 2.1  NA
Alaska  NA  NA
Arizona  NA 1.3
Arkansas 1.7  NA
California 1.4 1.3
Colorado  NA 1.7
Connecticut  NA  NA
Delaware 1.4  NA
District of Columbia 4.5  NA
Florida 1.6 1.5
Georgia 1.6 1.5
Hawaii  NA  NA
Idaho  NA 2.0
Illinois 1.7 1.5
Indiana  NA  NA
Iowa  NA  NA
Kansas  NA  NA
Kentucky  NA  NA
Louisiana 1.6  NA
Maine  NA  NA
Maryland 1.4  NA
Massachusetts  NA 2.1
Michigan 2.4  NA
Minnesota  NA  NA
Mississippi 1.6  NA
Missouri 1.6  NA
Montana  NA  NA
Nebraska  NA  NA
Nevada  NA 1.6
New Hampshire  NA  NA
New Jersey 1.4 1.3
New Mexico  NA 1.2
New York 1.4 1.9
North Carolina 1.3 1.4
North Dakota  NA  NA
Ohio 1.9  NA
Oklahoma  NA  NA
Oregon  NA 1.0
Pennsylvania 2.3  NA
Rhode Island  NA  NA
South Carolina 1.7  NA
South Dakota  NA  NA
Tennessee 1.7  NA
Texas 2.1 1.7
Utah  NA 1.1
Vermont  NA  NA
Virginia 1.9 2.0
Washington  NA 1.2
West Virginia  NA  NA
Wisconsin  NA  NA
Wyoming  NA  NA

Note: The table reports data only 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 Hispanic workers

The overall unemployment rate for Hispanic workers was high compared with white workers’ yet fell below that of Black workers’ to 11.3% in 2020Q3, still 6.5 percentage points above the pre-pandemic economic peak. Hispanic workers faced unemployment greater than 10% in eight out of the 18 states with available data. Hispanic workers in Massachusetts faced the highest unemployment rate of all groups measured, at 21.4%, followed relatively closely behind by Hispanic workers in New York who faced a 19.1% unemployment rate, and Hispanic Nevadans at 16.4%. These high unemployment rates among Hispanic workers reflect the impact of the pandemic recession on occupations and industries in which Hispanic workers are concentrated, with Latina workers in particular being less likely to be able to work from home.6

Hispanic workers in Utah saw the lowest unemployment rates in our data at 4.7%, followed by Hispanic Georgians at 7.8%. In Utah, the Hispanic–white unemployment ratio was just 1.1, meaning Hispanic workers were only 10% more likely to be unemployed there. In Oregon, the unemployment ratio was exactly 1—Hispanic and white workers were equally likely to be unemployed, though that unemployment rate was a relatively high at 9%.

Trends among Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers

AAPI workers have seen uncharacteristically high unemployment rates throughout the pandemic recession as well, with their overall rate still just above 10% in 2020Q3. This represents a reversal of recent trends in which AAPI unemployment rates fell below those of white workers. AAPI unemployment in 2020Q3 still represented the highest percentage point change from the previous economic peak in 2020Q1, at 7.1 percentage points higher. AAPI workers saw unemployment rates above 10% in four of the eight states for which there was available unemployment data, with the highest rates in New York (15.8%), and Hawaii (14.7%). Washington state saw the lowest AAPI unemployment rate among the available states, at 6.1%. This rate was also below that of white workers in that state, whose unemployment rate was 8.3%.

Fourth-quarter state unemployment rates, trends, and ratios

The end of the year was marked by hugely important elections for the presidency and in the senate, as COVID-19 continued to spread across the country. Over the three-month period from October 2020 to December 2020, the confirmed U.S. death count from COVID-19 rose from around 200,000 to roughly 350,000; in the previous period, it had risen from around 130,000 to 200,000.7 Despite the devastating public health effects of the pandemic, the labor market continued to improve for many workers, though at differing rates. Unemployment rates in 2020Q4 fell below 10% for all groups except Black workers.

Interactive Map

State unemployment rates, by race/ethnicity and overall, 2020Q4

State All White Black Hispanic AAPI
United States 6.8% 5.4% 10.2% 8.7% 7.6%
Alabama 4.7% 3.5% 7.7% NA NA
Alaska 6.0% 3.9% NA NA NA
Arizona 7.8% 6.4% NA 8.9% NA
Arkansas 5.6% 5.0% 8.9% NA NA
California 8.7% 7.3% 11.5% 10.0% 8.1%
Colorado 7.1% 6.3% NA 7.5% NA
Connecticut 7.4% 6.5% NA NA NA
Delaware 5.3% 4.1% 8.1% NA NA
Washington D.C. 7.9% 3.7% 14.7% NA NA
Florida 6.3% 4.6% 8.7% 7.8% 5.9%
Georgia 5.3% 4.1% 7.0% 3.9% NA
Hawaii 11.3% 11.6% NA NA 11.6%
Idaho 4.9% 4.5% NA 5.5% NA
Illinois 7.3% 6.0% 13.6% 8.5% 5.1%
Indiana 5.0% 4.4% NA NA NA
Iowa 3.5% 2.9% NA NA NA
Kansas 4.6% 4.5% NA 4.6% NA
Kentucky 6.3% 5.4% NA NA NA
Louisiana 8.4% 6.7% 11.9% NA NA
Maine 5.1% 4.8% NA NA NA
Maryland 6.9% 6.1% 8.1% NA NA
Massachusetts 7.2% 6.1% NA 10.8% 6.5%
Michigan 6.9% 5.3% 15.6% NA NA
Minnesota 4.5% 4.3% NA NA NA
Mississippi 6.6% 4.4% 10.4% NA NA
Missouri 5.0% 4.3% NA NA NA
Montana 4.7% 4.1% NA NA NA
Nebraska 3.0% 2.6% NA NA NA
Nevada 10.5% 7.7% NA 10.9% NA
New Hampshire 4.0% 3.7% NA NA NA
New Jersey 8.6% 7.6% 15.4% 8.3% 5.9%
New Mexico 7.8% 5.7% NA 8.4% NA
New York 8.6% 6.7% 10.0% 12.4% 11.0%
North Carolina 6.2% 5.2% 8.8% 6.6% NA
North Dakota 4.4% 3.8% NA NA NA
Ohio 5.8% 4.8% 11.1% NA NA
Oklahoma 5.9% 4.1% NA 9.8% NA
Oregon 6.4% 6.3% NA NA NA
Pennsylvania 7.0% 5.1% 16.5% 12.9% NA
Rhode Island 7.5% 6.9% NA NA NA
South Carolina 4.4% 3.8% 6.3% NA NA
South Dakota 3.4% 2.5% NA NA NA
Tennessee 6.3% 5.2% 11.3% NA NA
Texas 7.4% 5.6% 10.7% 8.6% 6.2%
Utah 4.0% 3.5% NA 4.5% NA
Vermont 3.1% 3.0% NA NA NA
Virginia 5.0% 3.1% 8.7% 7.0% 7.1%
Washington 6.3% 6.0% NA 6.7% 4.7%
West Virginia 6.3% 6.2% NA NA NA
Wisconsin 5.6% 4.6% NA NA NA
Wyoming 5.1% 4.6% NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The map reports unemployment rates only 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 white workers

The overall white unemployment rate in 2020Q4 fell to 5.4%, just 2.3 percentage points above the rate in 2020Q1 prior to the pandemic. Hawaii was the only state in which the unemployment rates for white workers remained above 10%, likely due to that state’s reliance on the still severely limited tourism and hospitality industries.

The white unemployment rate was below 4% in 11 states and the District of Columbia in 2020Q4. Rates were lowest in Iowa (2.9%), Nebraska (2.6%), and South Dakota (2.5%). There were also 13 states in which the unemployment rate for white workers in 2020Q4 was within 1 percentage point of its pre-pandemic low. Despite the clear labor market improvements in some states, unemployment rates for white workers remained at or above 5% in nearly half the states. This, along with the much higher unemployment rates for members of other groups, underlines the sharply unequal “K-shaped” nature of this recovery.8

Table 3

Change in state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity from 2020Q1 to 2020Q4 (percentage points)

State White Black Hispanic AAPI
United States 2.3 3.9 3.9 4.6
Alabama 0.7 4.1 NA NA
Alaska 0.1 NA NA NA
Arizona 2.6 NA 4.2 NA
Arkansas 1.3 3.8 NA NA
California 4.0 5.4 4.5 5.1
Colorado 3.6 NA 3.4 NA
Connecticut 3.1 NA NA NA
Delaware 0.8 0.2 NA NA
District of Columbia 1.7 3.4 NA NA
Florida 1.9 2.3 5.0 4.5
Georgia 1.9 1.8 0.5 NA
Hawaii 8.5 NA NA 9.2
Idaho 2.0 NA 2.0 NA
Illinois 2.9 6.9 3.3 3.6
Indiana 1.6 NA NA NA
Iowa 0.5 NA NA NA
Kansas 1.6 NA 0.9 NA
Kentucky 0.8 NA NA NA
Louisiana 3.1 1.9 NA NA
Maine 2.0 NA NA NA
Maryland 3.8 2.1 NA NA
Massachusetts 3.5 NA 6.8 5.0
Michigan 2.1 8.6 NA NA
Minnesota 1.4 NA NA NA
Mississippi 1.0 1.3 NA NA
Missouri 0.8 NA NA NA
Montana 0.9 NA NA NA
Nebraska 0.0 NA NA NA
Nevada 3.6 NA 6.4 NA
New Hampshire 1.3 NA NA NA
New Jersey 4.9 8.4 3.8 1.4
New Mexico 1.9 NA 3.0 NA
New York 3.3 4.5 6.7 8.7
North Carolina 2.4 3.2 0.0 NA
North Dakota 1.8 NA NA NA
Ohio 1.5 2.1 NA NA
Oklahoma 1.5 NA 6.4 NA
Oregon 2.7 NA NA NA
Pennsylvania 1.1 6.3 4.6 NA
Rhode Island 3.7 NA NA NA
South Carolina 1.9 2.5 NA NA
South Dakota 0.8 NA NA NA
Tennessee 2.7 4.0 NA NA
Texas 2.9 5.1 3.8 3.6
Utah 0.8 NA 1.8 NA
Vermont 0.3 NA NA NA
Virginia 0.7 4.0 3.4 4.6
Washington 2.5 NA -0.2 1.3
West Virginia 1.3 NA NA NA
Wisconsin 2.1 NA NA NA
Wyoming 1.6 NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The table reports data only 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 Black workers

In sharp contrast to the relative labor improvements seen for white workers in 2020Q4, Black workers saw continued recession-level unemployment across the states for which we have data. Black workers were the only racial/ethnic group whose national unemployment rate remained above 10%, at 10.2%. Twelve out of the 21 states (including the District of Columbia) for which data were available had Black unemployment rates above 10% with the highest rates seen in Pennsylvania (16.5%), Michigan (15.6%), New Jersey (15.4%), and the District of Columbia (14.7%). The Black–white unemployment ratio remained highest in the District, with Black workers in our nation’s capital four times as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts.

The Black–white unemployment ratio at the national level rose to 1.9. This represents an unfortunate return to form for the American economy, in which Black workers have been consistently about twice as likely as white workers to be unemployed over the past 50 years.9 The pandemic recession represented a rare disruption of this trend where the ratio fell to 1.6 in the second and third quarters. At the onset of the pandemic, unemployment rates rose for all groups of workers, and at similar levels10 because the labor market disruption was being driven by justified economic lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As both the recession and the pandemic continued, the labor market recovered much more slowly for Black workers—confirming Black workers’ status as “last hired” during economic recoveries.11 Black workers were at least twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers in 11 states and the District of Columbia in 2020Q4.

Table 4

Black–white and Hispanic–white state unemployment rate ratios, 2020Q4

State Black–white ratio Hispanic–white ratio
United States 1.9 1.6
Alabama 2.2 NA
Alaska NA NA
Arizona NA 1.4
Arkansas 1.8 NA
California 1.6 1.4
Colorado NA 1.2
Connecticut NA NA
Delaware 2.0 NA
District of Columbia 4.0 NA
Florida 1.9 1.7
Georgia 1.7 0.9
Hawaii NA NA
Idaho NA 1.2
Illinois 2.3 1.4
Indiana NA NA
Iowa NA NA
Kansas NA 1.0
Kentucky NA NA
Louisiana 1.8 NA
Maine NA NA
Maryland 1.3 NA
Massachusetts NA 1.8
Michigan 2.9 NA
Minnesota NA NA
Mississippi 2.4 NA
Missouri NA NA
Montana NA NA
Nebraska NA NA
Nevada NA 1.4
New Hampshire NA NA
New Jersey 2.0 1.1
New Mexico NA 1.5
New York 1.5 1.8
North Carolina 1.7 1.3
North Dakota NA NA
Ohio 2.3 NA
Oklahoma NA 2.4
Oregon NA NA
Pennsylvania 3.2 2.5
Rhode Island NA NA
South Carolina 1.7 NA
South Dakota NA NA
Tennessee 2.2 NA
Texas 1.9 1.5
Utah NA 1.3
Vermont NA NA
Virginia 2.8 2.3
Washington NA 1.1
West Virginia NA NA
Wisconsin NA NA
Wyoming NA NA

Note: The table reports data only 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 Hispanic workers

The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers fell to 8.7% in 2020Q4, representing a significant improvement from the previous period. Hispanic workers still saw unemployment rates above 10% in five states: California (10.0%), Massachusetts (10.8%), Nevada (10.9%), New York (12.4%), and Pennsylvania (12.9%). While these remain extreme, they represent marked improvements from the previous period; for example, Hispanic unemployment rates in Massachusetts were cut nearly in half and by roughly a third in New York. Hispanic workers were more than twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers in Virginia, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.

Among the states with available data, unemployment rates for Hispanic workers were lowest in Georgia (3.9%), Utah (4.5%), and Kansas (4.6%). In Georgia, Hispanic workers were less likely to be unemployed than white workers; the Hispanic–white unemployment ratio was less than 1, at 0.9. Kansas, New Jersey, and Washington had similarly low Hispanic–white unemployment ratios, at 1.0, 1.1, and 1.1, respectively.

Trends among Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers

AAPI workers saw their unemployment rates continue to fall in 2020Q4, though those rates remained above those of white workers in many instances. Overall, the unemployment rate for AAPI workers was 7.6%, still 4.6 percentage points above their position prior to the pandemic. AAPI workers faced unemployment rates greater than 10% in just two of the states for which data was available, Hawaii and New York. AAPI workers saw unemployment rates lower than white workers in three states: New Jersey (5.9% vs. 7.6%), Illinois (5.1% vs. 6.0%), and Washington (4.7% vs. 6.0%).

Supplemental charts: Second-quarter 2020 data

Unemployment data for the second quarter of 2020 are provided in the map and tables below.

Interactive Map

State unemployment rates, by race/ethnicity and overall, 2020Q2

State All White Black Hispanic AAPI
Alabama 10.3% 8.6% 14.2% NA NA
Alaska 12.9% 10.2% NA NA NA
Arizona 10.8% 9.4% NA 11.2% NA
Arkansas 9.5% 8.7% 13.2% NA NA
California 15.9% 13.5% 18.3% 18.1% 14.2%
Colorado 11.0% 8.9% NA 16.4% NA
Connecticut 9.2% 8.9% NA NA NA
Delaware 14.4% 12.8% 17.9% NA NA
Washington D.C. 9.7% 4.0% 18.2% NA NA
Florida 12.6% 10.4% 17.5% 14.5% NA
Georgia 9.9% 7.5% 11.8% 12.4% NA
Hawaii 20.4% 19.1% NA NA 21.9%
Idaho 8.8% 7.6% NA 16.3% NA
Illinois 15.7% 13.0% 20.7% 23.0% 9.4%
Indiana 13.7% 12.2% NA NA NA
Iowa 9.7% 8.4% NA NA NA
Kansas 9.8% 9.2% NA NA NA
Kentucky 10.6% 10.3% NA NA NA
Louisiana 13.0% 9.7% 18.2% NA NA
Maine 8.8% 8.5% NA NA NA
Maryland 9.4% 6.6% 13.0% NA NA
Massachusetts 16.7% 14.1% NA 29.9% 17.5%
Michigan 20.0% 17.5% 35.5% NA NA
Minnesota 9.1% 8.1% NA NA NA
Mississippi 11.8% 9.7% 16.0% NA NA
Missouri 9.4% 9.1% 10.5% NA NA
Montana 9.3% 8.8% NA NA NA
Nebraska 6.9% 6.0% NA NA NA
Nevada 23.5% 17.8% NA 30.1% NA
New Hampshire 14.8% 13.6% NA NA NA
New Jersey 16.1% 13.0% 18.3% 23.3% 16.2%
New Mexico 9.8% 8.4% NA 10.0% NA
New York 15.2% 12.2% 18.3% 22.0% 16.2%
North Carolina 11.1% 9.8% 14.2% 15.2% NA
North Dakota 8.1% 7.4% NA NA NA
Ohio 14.1% 11.5% 23.4% NA NA
Oklahoma 11.3% 9.3% NA 12.9% NA
Oregon 13.5% 13.3% NA 14.2% NA
Pennsylvania 14.2% 12.2% 22.0% 19.7% NA
Rhode Island 15.6% 13.1% NA NA NA
South Carolina 11.3% 9.0% 17.0% NA NA
South Dakota 9.2% 6.4% NA NA NA
Tennessee 12.1% 10.3% 16.9% NA NA
Texas 11.7% 7.8% 18.0% 14.1% 12.3%
Utah 8.0% 7.8% NA 8.6% NA
Vermont 12.9% 12.1% NA NA NA
Virginia 9.5% 7.7% 11.6% 15.2% NA
Washington 13.7% 12.0% NA 17.6% 11.2%
West Virginia 13.1% 12.4% NA NA NA
Wisconsin 11.4% 9.9% NA NA NA
Wyoming 8.7% 7.9% NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The map reports unemployment rates only 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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Supplemental Table 1

Change in state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity from 2020Q1 to 2020Q2 (percentage points)

State White Black Hispanic AAPI
United States 7.8 11.1 12.1 10.4
Alabama 5.7 10.6 NA NA
Alaska 6.4 NA NA NA
Arizona 5.5 NA 6.6 NA
Arkansas 5.1 8.0 NA NA
California 10.2 12.3 12.7 11.2
Colorado 6.2 NA 12.2 NA
Connecticut 5.5 NA NA NA
Delaware 9.5 9.9 NA NA
District of Columbia 2.0 6.9 NA NA
Florida 7.8 11.1 11.7 NA
Georgia 5.3 6.6 9.1 NA
Hawaii 15.9 NA NA 19.4
Idaho 5.0 NA 12.8 NA
Illinois 10.0 14.0 17.8 7.9
Indiana 9.4 NA NA NA
Iowa 6.0 NA NA NA
Kansas 6.3 NA NA NA
Kentucky 5.6 NA NA NA
Louisiana 6.1 8.2 NA NA
Maine 5.7 NA NA NA
Maryland 4.3 6.9 NA NA
Massachusetts 11.4 NA 26.0 16.0
Michigan 14.3 28.5 NA NA
Minnesota 5.2 NA NA NA
Mississippi 6.3 6.9 NA NA
Missouri 5.6 4.3 NA NA
Montana 5.5 NA NA NA
Nebraska 3.4 NA NA NA
Nevada 13.8 NA 25.5 NA
New Hampshire 11.2 NA NA NA
New Jersey 10.4 11.4 18.7 11.8
New Mexico 4.6 NA 4.6 NA
New York 8.8 12.7 16.4 13.9
North Carolina 6.9 8.6 8.6 NA
North Dakota 5.5 NA NA NA
Ohio 8.2 14.4 NA NA
Oklahoma 6.7 NA 9.4 NA
Oregon 9.7 NA 11.2 NA
Pennsylvania 8.2 11.9 11.4 NA
Rhode Island 10.0 NA NA NA
South Carolina 7.1 13.2 NA NA
South Dakota 4.7 NA NA NA
Tennessee 7.8 9.6 NA NA
Texas 5.0 12.3 9.3 9.7
Utah 5.0 NA 6.0 NA
Vermont 9.4 NA NA NA
Virginia 5.4 6.9 11.6 NA
Washington 8.5 NA 10.7 7.8
West Virginia 7.5 NA NA NA
Wisconsin 7.3 NA NA NA
Wyoming 4.9 NA NA NA

Note: AAPI stands for Asian American/Pacific Islander. The table reports data only 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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Supplemental Table 2

Black–white and Hispanic–white state unemployment rate ratios, 2020Q2

Black–white ratio Hispanic–white ratio
United States 1.6 1.6
Alabama 1.6 NA
Alaska NA NA
Arizona NA 1.2
Arkansas 1.5 NA
California 1.4 1.3
Colorado NA 1.8
Connecticut NA NA
Delaware 1.4 NA
District of Columbia 4.6 NA
Florida 1.7 1.4
Georgia 1.6 1.7
Hawaii NA NA
Idaho NA 2.2
Illinois 1.6 1.8
Indiana NA NA
Iowa NA NA
Kansas NA NA
Kentucky NA NA
Louisiana 1.9 NA
Maine NA NA
Maryland 2.0 NA
Massachusetts NA 2.1
Michigan 2.0 NA
Minnesota NA NA
Mississippi 1.7 NA
Missouri 1.2 NA
Montana NA NA
Nebraska NA NA
Nevada NA 1.7
New Hampshire NA NA
New Jersey 1.4 1.8
New Mexico NA 1.2
New York 1.5 1.8
North Carolina 1.5 1.6
North Dakota NA NA
Ohio 2.0 NA
Oklahoma NA 1.4
Oregon NA 1.1
Pennsylvania 1.8 1.6
Rhode Island NA NA
South Carolina 1.9 NA
South Dakota NA NA
Tennessee 1.6 NA
Texas 2.3 1.8
Utah NA 1.1
Vermont NA NA
Virginia 1.5 2.0
Washington NA 1.5
West Virginia NA NA
Wisconsin NA NA
Wyoming NA NA

Note: The table reports data only 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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Methodology

The unemployment rate estimates in this report 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 and ethnicity 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 particular subgroups are not large enough to create accurate estimates of their unemployment rates. We report data only for groups that had, on average, a sample size of at least 700 in the labor force for each six-month period.

Notes

1. See “COVID-19-Resilient Industries: Information and Government” in Aaron Klein and Ember Smith, Explaining the Economic Impact of COVID-19, Brookings, February 2021.

2. Author’s analysis of data from EPI Current Population Survey basic monthly extracts, Version 1.0.13. While Black residents account for 42.3% of the population of D.C., Black workers make up only 28.5% of federal government workers. White workers make up 58% of federal workers in D.C and 41.7% of the population. The unemployment rate for federal workers in D.C. was kept to 2% over 2020. Black workers make up a disproportionate share of state and local public-sector employment, where unemployment rates have been higher both nationally and in D.C. as compared with federal employees. See David Cooper and Julia Wolfe, “Cuts to the State and Local Public Sector Will Disproportionately Harm Women and Black Workers,” Working Economics Blog (Economic Policy Institute), July 9, 2020.

3. See Janelle Jones, “In 14 States and DC, the African American Unemployment Rate Is at Least Twice the White Unemployment Rate,” Economic Indicators, Economic Policy Institute, May 17, 2018.

4. See Maurice Jackson, ed., An Analysis: African American Employment, Population and Housing Trends in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University and the D.C. Commission on African American Affairs, 2017.

5. See Kimberly Dozier, “As Washington D.C. Weighs Reopening, African Americans in the Nation’s Capital Brace for the Worst,” TIME, May 27, 2020. For a discussion of the broader effects of the pandemic on Black workers across the United States, see Elise Gould and Valerie Wilson, Black Workers Face Two of the Most Lethal Preexisting Conditions for Coronavirus—Racism and Economic Inequality, Economic Policy Institute, June 1, 2020.

6. See Elise Gould, Daniel Perez, and Valerie Wilson, Latinx Workers—Particularly Women—Face Devastating Job Losses in the COVID-19 Recession, Economic Policy Institute, August 20, 2020.

7. Cumulative Confirmed Deaths per Million People,” Our World in Data, a collaboration of the University of Oxford and the Global Change Data Lab, accessed March 16, 2021.

8. For a discussion of the K-shaped recovery seen in this recession, see Elizabeth Aldrich, “What a K-Shaped Recovery Means, and How It Highlights a Nation’s Economic Inequalities,” Business Insider, December 17, 2020.

9. Olugbenga Ajilore, On the Persistence of the Black–White Unemployment Gap, Center for American Progress, February 2020.

10. Unemployment rose from 3% and 6% for white and Black workers, respectively, to 14.1% and 16.7%–roughly 11 percentage points for each group. In previous recessions, the unemployment rate has typically risen by a greater amount for Black workers. In the Great Recession, for example, Black unemployment rate rose from 9% in January 2008 to nearly 17% at its peak in March 2010, while the white unemployment rate rose from 4.4% to 9.2% at its peak in October 2009. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics historical unemployment rate data for Black workers and white workers, accessed via Federal Reserve Economic Data [FRED].)

11. K.A. Couch and R. Fairlie, “Last Hired, First Fired? Black–White Unemployment and the Business Cycle,” Demography 47, no. 1 (2010): 227–247. https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.0.0086.