Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos projected to stay very high through 2012

by February 16, 2012

Very high levels of unemployment are expected to remain high through the 4th quarter of 2012, a new EPI report finds.  In No relief in 2012 from high unemployment for African Americans and Latinos, EPI Director of the Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy program Algernon Austin reviews unemployment rates by state for African Americans, Latinos and whites.  He finds that the 25 states where African Americans are experiencing unemployment rates of 10% or higher will continue to do so through 2012, as will the 14 states where the Latino unemployment rate is 10% or higher.

The African American unemployment rate is higher than the overall rate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The lowest African American unemployment rate—11.2% in Maryland—is roughly the same as the highest white unemployment rate—11.7 % in Nevada.  Five states and the District of Columbia have African American unemployment rates over 20%–Minnesota (27.4%), California (21.3%), DC (21.1%), Ohio (20.3%) and Michigan (21.8%).  California is the only one of these states where the unemployment rate is projected to drop below 20% in 2012.

The highest unemployment rates for Latinos are found in Rhode Island (19.6%), Connecticut (18.7%) and Pennsylvania (17.5%).  California and Florida are projected to see the largest declines in Latino unemployment in 2012, but these declines do not exceed 1.5 percentage points.

“EPI’s state-based analysis makes clear that it would be a mistake to conclude that the employment situation is improving,” said Catherine Singley, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Council of La Raza.  “In states like Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, near twenty-percent unemployment is a reality for Latinos.  Local and state officials who fail to respond to this crisis do a disservice to workers, families, and the economy.”

Finally, white unemployment is at relatively high levels in many states, but it is lower than the overall unemployment rate in all states. California is the only state projected to see the white unemployment rate drop more than one percentage point, to 8.9%.

“Americans need Congress to enact jobs proposals like those in President Obama’s American Jobs Act,” said Austin. “If we fail to accelerate the recovery, all Americans, but especially blacks and Latinos, will experience prolonged economic hardship.”

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