The latest analysis of state unemployment by race and ethnicity from EPI Economic Analyst Janelle Jones shows that in the fourth quarter of 2017, African American workers had the highest unemployment rate nationally, at 7.3 percent, followed by Hispanic (4.8 percent), Asian (3.4 percent), and white workers (3.3 percent).
“While there have been state by state improvements in prospects for black and Hispanic working people, their unemployment rates remain high relative to those of white workers,” said Jones. “The reduction in unemployment among African Americans is heartening, but we are not where we need to be—the unemployment numbers continue to reflect a lack of racial equality.”
Key highlights from the report include:
- While the African American unemployment rate is at or below its pre-recession level in 17 states (of the 22 states—and the District of Columbia—for which these data are available), in 18 states and the District of Columbia, the African American unemployment rate is at least double the white unemployment rate.
- The black unemployment rate in the District of Columbia is 7.8 times the white unemployment rate. Among states, the ratio of black to white unemployment is highest in South Carolina and Michigan (3.2-to-1 and 3.0-to-1, respectively).
- The highest African American unemployment rate is in the District of Columbia (13.7 percent), followed by Michigan (10.8 percent). The highest Hispanic state unemployment rate is in Connecticut (8.3 percent). In contrast, the highest white state unemployment rate is 5.3 percent, in West Virginia.
- While the Hispanic unemployment rate is at or below its pre-recession level in 12 states (of the 16 states for which these data are available), there is no state where the Hispanic unemployment rate is lower than the white rate.
- In three states and the District of Columbia, Hispanic unemployment rates exceed white unemployment rates by a ratio of 2-to-1 or higher (Connecticut, 2.3-to-1; District of Columbia, 2.2-to-1; Massachusetts, 2.2-to-1; and Arizona, 2.1-to-1).