The Hispanic unemployment rate is at or near full recovery in eight states—double the number at this time last year, according to the latest analysis from EPI economist Valerie Wilson. Wilson uses a unique analysis of Current Population Survey data and Local Area Unemployment Statistics program data to update her quarterly estimate of state unemployment rates by race and ethnicity in over 20 states.
In the third quarter of 2015, the Hispanic unemployment rate was highest in Massachusetts (13.2 percent) and lowest in the District of Columbia (3.7 percent) and Colorado (4.5 percent). It was at or below pre-recession levels in five states: Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Washington. Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Florida, and Texas continue to have Hispanic unemployment rates that are lower than the national average among Hispanics (6.4 percent), a distinction they also held before the Great Recession.
“Since we’ve begun this analysis, the Hispanic unemployment rate has been at or near full recovery in just a handful of states. It is an improvement that this number has grown to eight states since this time last year, and not just in states where the pre-recession Hispanic unemployment rate was highest,” said Wilson. “However, the pace of job growth this quarter was slower in 35 states and the District of Columbia than over the same period last year. We need policies that will continue to advance the recovery and push rates below pre-recession unemployment levels for all groups.”
Fifteen states had African American unemployment rates below 10 percent in the third quarter—four more states than in the second quarter. The African American unemployment rate was lowest in Massachusetts, where it dipped to 5.7 percent. However, the Massachusetts labor force shrank by 1.8 percent between June and September, meaning this exceptionally low black unemployment rate may actually underestimate joblessness in the state. The African American unemployment rate was highest in the District of Columbia (13.6 percent) and Illinois (13.3 percent).
In September 2015, African Americans had the highest national unemployment rate at 9.2 percent, followed by Latinos (6.4 percent), whites (4.4 percent), and Asians (3.6 percent). State unemployment rates ranged from a high of 7.3 percent in West Virginia to a low of 2.8 percent in North Dakota.
Other key findings include:
- The white unemployment rate was lowest in South Dakota (1.9 percent) and highest in West Virginia (7.5 percent).
- White unemployment remains most elevated above its pre-recession level in West Virginia—3.3 percentage points higher than in the fourth quarter of 2007.
- The Asian unemployment rate was lowest in Massachusetts (2.1 percent) and highest in California (4.8 percent).
- The black unemployment rate remains most elevated above its pre-recession level in Alabama (5.2 percentage points higher).