New unemployment numbers were released Friday and by some measures, the unemployment crisis appears to be waning. But for Blacks and Latinos, there is no relief at all. The new figures expose that the country’s jobless recovery is fueled by and fueling the growing racial jobs gap.
Though the economy added jobs last month, the overall unemployment rate remained flat. This is in large part because unemployment increased for Black and Latino workers. The increase was most dramatic for Blacks with rates climbing from 15.8 to 16.5 percent. Blacks and Latinos continue to face barriers to equal employment and now, as the recession pushes states to make cuts in vital services and programs, the disparity grows.
For years, Black and Latino unemployment rates have been as high or higher than those whites now face in the crisis. Indeed, communities of color did not really recover from the last recession almost a decade ago. The persistence of high unemployment is largely a result of racial discrimination in hiring and barriers like having a criminal record or being undocumented as well as educational disparities. As glimmers of a jobs recovery start to emerge, it’s clear that people of color are not getting hired.
The recession has exacerbated disparities. In the face of budget deficits, cities and states are making cuts to the very services that people of color rely on to get to work in the first place. In New York to Los Angeles, for example, vital city buses have been slashed, creating yet another barrier to jobs. Research shows that people of color are more likely than whites to rely on public transit.
The Obama administration has continuously refused to address racial inequities in the provision of recovery efforts. The newest numbers make clear that without targeted recovery efforts, recovery will pass communities of color by, deepening already devastating inequity.