Race & Recession: Median Earnings & Unemployment by Race

By Jorge Rivas Apr 14, 2009

A special entry, part of the Race & Recession Compact Forum Call.

The Numbers are grim during this recession for people of color. We have been feeling the impact of the downturn disproportionately because of the cumulative effects of structural racism that compound us in various facets of our lives. Take, for example, unemployment. Over a thirty five year period from 1972 to 2009, Blacks experienced rates of unemployment double that of whites for all but five years. Unemployment for all spikes during periods of recession, but people of color take a longer time to recover. The highest point of white unemployment in the 35 year period was during the last significant downturn in 1983, at 9.3 percent. However, Blacks don’t bounce back from their peak of 19.9 to the highest white numbers until 1998, 15 years later. In earnings, racial disparities persist as well. From 1979 to 2008, the median weekly earnings of Blacks and Latinos are consistently well below those of whites. Make sure to check RaceWire tomorrow to hear more about the structural and institutional factors that keep people of color down. We’ll have a recording available of today’s Compact for Racial Justice Phone Forum on Race and Recession.