Janelle Jones

Janelle Jones is an economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute. 

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African American and Hispanic Unemployment Rates Continue High

There have been nationwide improvements in job prospects for African American and Hispanic workers, but unemployment rates remain high compared to white workers in states across the country. 

The Economic Policy Institute’s research shows that 12 states and the District of Columbia have a black unemployment rate at least twice the white unemployment rate: The highest African American unemployment rate in the country was in the District at 12.4 percent. (For whites in the city, it was 2 percent.) The District of Columbia also had the highest black unemployment rate during the previous eight quarters.

The highest African American unemployment rate was in Illinois at 9.3 percent, followed by Louisiana, 8.5 percent; Alabama, 7.1 percent; and New York, 7 percent. (African American unemployment rate estimates are available for 22 states and the District of Columbia.)

Where are the lowest unemployment rates for African Americans? Massachusetts and Virginia, both at 3.8 percent.

Nebraska had the highest Hispanic state unemployment rate at 5.9 percent. Connecticut came up next with a 5.7 percent rate. Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Washington state all had rates of 5.6 percent. The Hispanic unemployment rate was lower than the rates for whites in two states: In Colorado, Hispanic workers unemployment rate was 2.3 percent, and the rate for white workers, 2.9 percent; while in Georgia, Hispanic workers’ unemployment rate was slightly lower than whites, at 2.8 percent compared to 3 percent for white workers. (Hispanic unemployment rate estimates are available for 24 states and the District of Columbia.)

West Virginia has the highest unemployment rate for whites at 5 percent; the lowest is Hawaii’s 1.2 percent.  

In September, the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, down from 4 percent at the end of the second quarter of 2018. Nationally in the third quarter of 2018, African American workers had the highest unemployment rate, at 6.3 percent, followed by Hispanics, 4.5 percent; whites, 3.2 percent; and Asians, 3 percent.