During the second quarter of 2016, the African American unemployment rate was lowest in Texas (6.1 percent) and highest in Illinois (15.0 percent), according to the latest analysis of state unemployment by race and ethnicity, from EPI economist Valerie Wilson. Illinois has had the highest black unemployment rate for three consecutive quarters.
Although job growth was fairly widespread across the country during the second quarter of 2016, conditions continued to vary greatly across states and across racial and ethnic groups. Nationally, African American unemployment was nearly double the white unemployment rate in June (8.6 percent compared with 4.4 percent). Only 17 states had African American unemployment rates below 10 percent in the second quarter of 2016.
“Every month we continue to see job growth means the recovery is reaching more communities, but Americans are experiencing the recovery very differently, depending on their ethnicity and the state they live in,” said Wilson. “These disparities underscore the need for policymakers to pursue genuine full employment—which provides the best chance for African American workers to share in more of the economic gains.”
Other key findings include:
- African Americans had the highest national unemployment rate in June, at 8.6 percent, followed by Latinos (5.8 percent), whites (4.4 percent), and Asians (3.5 percent).
- In the second quarter of 2016, the Hispanic unemployment rate was highest in Pennsylvania (12.0 percent) and lowest in Virginia (2.7 percent). Hispanic unemployment is lower than the white rate in Georgia, Utah, and Virginia, while the Hispanic–white unemployment rate gap is largest in Pennsylvania, where the Hispanic unemployment rate is 2.8 times the white rate.
- The Asian unemployment rate was lowest in Hawaii and New Jersey (2.8 percent) and highest in Nevada (6.5 percent). Hawaii and New Jersey were also the states with the lowest Asian unemployment rates during the first quarter of 2016.
- The white unemployment rate was lowest in South Dakota (1.1 percent) and highest in West Virginia (6.3 percent). South Dakota also had the lowest white unemployment rate in the preceding three quarters, while West Virginia has had the highest white unemployment rate for five consecutive quarters.