Unemployment Decreased, But Not for Black, Latinx Women

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 09, 2020

The unemployment rate dropped 1.4 percentage points from April to May and added 2.5 million jobs in May, but not for Black women, according to a new study published by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).

“The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the disastrous consequences of longstanding racial and gender inequities, and women have proven particularly vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic consequences,” notes the study’s intro

To that point, while nearly everyone else started to see job improvements in the month of May, the unemployment rate for Black women increased from 16.4 percent in April to 16.5 percent in May, which means that 1 in 6 Black women didn’t have a job in May. Latinx women are faring the worst—nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) remained unemployed last month, compared to 10.7 percent for White men.

For young women between the ages of 20 and 24, the pandemic laid bare just how challenging it has been to stay employed. While 24 percent lost wages nationally in May, the rates for Black and Latinx women were substantially higher, at nearly 28 percent and 29.2 percent, respectively. 

See more highlights from the study below:


  • Pandemic-related job losses continue to hit younger women particularly hard, with nearly 1 in 4 (24 percent) women between the ages of 20 and 24 unemployed in May. 
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  • And rates for young Black women between the ages of 20 and 24 (27.8 percent) and young Latinas between the ages 20 and 24 (29.2 percent) were even higher.
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  • Rates of involuntary part-time work were higher for women of color: 31 percent of Black women, 37 percent of Asian women, and 39 percent of Latinas working part-time in May were doing so for economic reasons.
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  • Despite gains in many other sectors, 585,000 government jobs were lost last month. Since February, the number of government jobs has decreased by nearly 1.6 million, with women making up 967,000, or 62 percent of those losses.
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To read the complete study, check out the NWLC factsheet