A Tale of Two Recessions

By Daisy Hernandez Jun 07, 2010

The monthly unemployment numbers are in, largely confirming what we already knew: the 411,000 temporary jobs created by the Census jobs helped but just a little. The overall unemployment rate shifted down from 9.9 percent to 9.7 percent and for Black workers it went from 16.5 percent in April to 15.5 in May.

Newsweek is calling it a "tale of two recessions":

One hallmark of this economic downturn has been the disparities in the way the unemployment rate has affected people according to age, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and geography. A college-educated white woman in Massachusetts has much easier time finding work than, say, an African-American man with a high school diploma who lives in Michigan, where the unemployment rate stands at 14 percent. This is a tale of two recessions.

The unemployment rate for teenagers is 26.4 percent and for Latinos, it’s 12.4 percent. And almost half of the 15 million people who don’t have jobs today have been out of work for more than six months—it hasn’t been this bad since the Labor Department started tracking the figures in 1948.

The new jobs numbers don’t reveal the recession’s impact on older folks, who’ve continued working but now as freelancers without health insurance or retirement. They get classified as entrepreneurs or the self-employed. But as The Hill notes, it’s a "new wave of involuntary entrepreneurship."

Newsweek’s conclusion: "economic disparities in this country will keep growing."

Photo: Getty Images/Spencer Platt