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News from EPI 12 states and D.C. have a black unemployment rate at least twice that of white unemployment: The highest African American unemployment rate is in the District of Columbia at 12.4 percent

In a state-by-state breakdown of unemployment rates by race and ethnicity for the third quarter of 2018, Economic Analyst Janelle Jones shows that, while there have been nationwide improvements in prospects for black and Hispanic workers, their unemployment rates remain high relative to white workers in every state.

Of the states for which data are available, the highest African American unemployment rate was in the District of Columbia (12.4 percent), followed by Illinois (9.3 percent), Louisiana (8.5 percent), Alabama (7.1 percent), and New York (7.0 percent).

The highest Hispanic state unemployment rate is in Nebraska (5.9 percent), followed by Connecticut (5.7 percent), Arizona (5.6 percent), Pennsylvania (5.6 percent), and Washington (5.6 percent). In two states, the Hispanic unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate. In Colorado, Hispanic workers’ 2.3 percent unemployment rate was lower than the 2.9 percent rate for white workers (a ratio of 0.8-to-1.) In Georgia, Hispanic workers’ unemployment rate was 2.8 percent vs. 3.0 percent for white workers (a ratio of 0.9-to-1). The ratio of Hispanic unemployment to white unemployment was highest in Nebraska (3.0-to-1), Idaho (1.9-to-1), and Virginia (1.9-to-1).

Meanwhile, the highest white state unemployment rate is 5.0 percent, in West Virginia, and lowest (1.2 percent) in Hawaii.

Among states, the unemployment rate for African Americans was lowest in Massachusetts and Virginia (3.8 percent), and highest in Illinois (9.3 percent); in the District of Columbia, it was 12.4 percent. The District of Columbia also had the highest black unemployment rate during the previous eight quarters.

“As the economy continues to recover, all racial and ethnic groups are making employment gains,” said Jones. “But policymakers should make sure that the recovery reaches everyone before taking their foot off the gas.”

Massachusetts had the smallest black–white unemployment rate ratio in the third quarter of 2018—black unemployment in Massachusetts was only 1.1 times the white unemployment rate. Meanwhile, as in the previous eight quarters, the largest gap was in the District of Columbia, where the black unemployment rate was 6.2 times the white rate. The next highest unemployment ratios were in Illinois (3.0-to-1), Louisiana (2.8-to-1), South Carolina (2.7-to-1), and Alabama (2.4-to-1).

Nationally, in the third quarter of 2018, African American workers had the highest unemployment rate nationally, at 6.3 percent, followed by Hispanic (4.5 percent), white (3.2 percent), and Asian workers (3.0 percent).


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