Economic Snapshot | Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy (PREE)

Native Americans Are Still Waiting for an Economic Recovery

Four years after the official end of the Great Recession, Native Americans are still experiencing unemployment rates in the double digits. Though the unemployment rate for whites peaked at 9.1 percent in the first half of 2010,  Native Americans have endured five years of unemployment rates over 10 percent. In the first half of 2013, the Native American unemployment rate was 11.3 percent.

Native Americans need policymakers to do more to address the continuing jobs crisis, and declines in overall unemployment would have satisfyingly large effects for them. If the overall unemployment rate falls by 2 points, generally the rates for Native American, African American, and Latino communities tend to fall 3 to 4 points. As this recent EPI report shows, one way to generate this job growth is by addressing the country’s tremendous infrastructure needs. Indian Country, like the United States generally, has large unfilled infrastructure needs. Robust infrastructure investments could put millions of Americans of all races back to work, and in particular, these investments would help stimulate a much-needed economic recovery for Native Americans.