The recovery is reaching people unevenly by state and race, according to a new Economic Policy Institute analysis from Valerie Wilson, EPI Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. In the latest addition to EPI’s toolbox of economic indicators, Wilson examines state unemployment rates by race and racial gaps in unemployment for the third quarter of 2014. Wilson finds that though the national unemployment rate recently reached its lowest point since July 2008, economic recovery conditions vary greatly across states and across racial and ethnic groups. Moving forward, EPI will provide this unique analysis, including an interactive map of unemployment rates by state and race, on a quarterly basis.
“People are experiencing the recovery much differently based on their race and their location, and for far too many people, particularly people of color, the recovery has yet to occur,” said Wilson. “Until the recovery reaches these families, policymakers should use every available tool to put more people back to work.”
The white unemployment rate was lowest in North Dakota (1.9 percent) and highest in Nevada (7.2 percent). The African American unemployment rate was lowest in Virginia (8.2 percent) and highest in Nevada (16.8 percent). The Hispanic unemployment rate was lowest in the District of Columbia (3.0 percent) and highest in Rhode Island (20.3 percent). The Asian unemployment rate was lowest in Washington state (2.5 percent) and highest in California (5.9 percent).
The white unemployment rate has reached its pre-recession level in six states—Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Massachusetts. The African American unemployment rate has reached its pre-recession level in Ohio and South Carolina, but remains most elevated above its pre-recession level in Alabama (7.1 percentage points higher). The Hispanic unemployment rate has reached its pre-recession level in Colorado and Georgia. In Colorado, the Hispanic unemployment rate was also lower than the national average in the fourth quarter of 2007 and remains so currently. The Asian unemployment rate remains most elevated above pre-recession levels in New Jersey (2.5 percentage points) and New York (2.4 percentage points).
The black-white unemployment rate gap is smallest in Virginia (1.6 times the white unemployment rate) and largest in the District of Columbia (5.4 times the white rate). The Hispanic-white unemployment rate gap is smallest in Virginia where the Hispanic unemployment rate is 0.9 times the white rate.