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Job Prospects flat for black workers in March

Flazingo.com, Creative Commons

By Freddie Allen

NNPA Newswire Managing Editor

Flazingo.com, Creative Commons
The labor force participation rate for African Americans in the labor force remained unchanged from February to March. (Flazingo.com, Creative Commons)

The employment prospects for African Americans showed little improvement in March, according to the Labor Department’s most recent jobs report.

The labor force participation rate, which is the share of blacks who either hold jobs or are looking for work, remained unchanged from February (62.3 percent) to March. The share of blacks who have jobs within the population (employment-population ratio or E-POP) was also flat (57.3 percent). The black unemployment rate improved slightly, decreasing from 8.1 percent to 8 percent in March.

Meanwhile, the key labor market indicators for white workers continued to improve under the Trump Administration. The labor force participation rate for White workers ticked up from 62.9 percent in February to 63 percent in March and the E-POP increased from 60.3 percent to 60.5 percent last month. The unemployment rate for White workers also improved, dipping below 4 percent in March.

The labor force participation rate for black men over 20 years-old climbed up a few rungs from 67.8 percent in February to 68.1 percent in March and the E-POP ticked up from 62.5 percent to 62.6 percent. The jobless rate increased from 7.8 percent to 8.2 percent in March, which may occur when workers are optimistic about their prospects.

The labor force rate for white men over 20 years-old decreased from 72 percent to 71.9 percent in March. The E-POP also declined from 69.3 percent in 69.2 percent. The unemployment rate improved from 4.1 percent to 3.9 percent, but this was most likely the result of white men leaving the labor market in March.

The labor force rate for black women over 20 years-old was the same 62.7 percent in March that it was in February. The employment-population ratio increased from 58.3 to 58.6 percent in March. The jobless rate for Black women fell from 7.1 percent to 6.6 percent in March.

The labor force rate for white women over 20 years-old rose from 57.6 percent to 57.8 percent in March. The E-POP also increased from 55.5 percent to 55.7 percent in March. The unemployment rate for White women fell from 3.7 percent to 3.5 percent in March indicating that White women entered the labor market and found jobs at higher rates in March compared to February.

The national unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March and the economy added 98,000 jobs, the lowest monthly job growth under the Trump Administration, so far.

The professional and business services sectors added 56,000 jobs and retail trade lost 30,000 jobs in March, according to the Labor Department.

In a statement about the March jobs report, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said that the current economic growth, once again, disproves President Trump’s claim that he was handed ‘a mess’ by the Obama Administration.

“President Trump and Congressional Republicans have failed to build on the economic progress made during the Obama years,” said Scott.

Scott also noted that the House Republicans of the 115th Congress have rolled back protections that would help Americans stay safe at work, have access to a high-quality education, save for retirement, breathe clean air and drink clean water.

In a blog post about the March employment numbers, Elise Gould, a senior economist with the Economic Policy Institute, said that, despite President Trump’s claims, the economy has been slowly but steadily headed ever-closer to full employment for years.

Gould also refuted Trump’s assertion that he could enact policies that will see the American economy add 25 million new jobs over the next 10 years.

“This pace of job growth over a decade is pretty much impossible to envision,” said Gould. “But we could in theory see 2-3 years of significantly faster job growth than what has characterized the recent past. Unfortunately, no sign of this theoretical possibility has shown up in the data yet.”

Gould said that policymakers must aggressively pursue full employment to ensure that all workers share in the nation’s economic growth.

“While the topline indicators provide important measures of the overall economy, workers of color, as well as young workers and less credentialed workers, suffer from higher than average unemployment rates in both good times and bad,” said Gould. “For example, it was only in July 2015 that the Black unemployment rate finally ducked below where the White unemployment rate was at its peak in the aftermath of the Great Recession.”

Gould continued: “So, while the economy is the strongest it’s been in years, there are still a lot of workers sitting on the sidelines and underutilized. For communities across the country to feel the full extent of the recovery, the Federal Reserve needs to keep their foot off the brakes and let the economy reach full employment before raising interest rates again.”