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HomeEconomyJobless rates rise in April for all race groups except Black Americans

Jobless rates rise in April for all race groups except Black Americans


A networking and hiring event for professionals of color in Minneapolis.

Michael Siluk | Getty Images

The unemployment rate for Black Americans fell in April, bucking the overall trend, according to data released Friday by the Department of Labor.

Black Americans remain the racial group with the highest jobless percentage in the U.S., even after the group’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.6% last month from 6.4% in March. Still, that’s notable compared with the overall unemployment rate — which rose to 3.9% in April from 3.8% — and to the other racial demographics, which all saw their unemployment rates increase last month.

White Americans saw their unemployment rate edge fractionally higher to 3.5% from 3.4%. The jobless rate for Asian and Hispanic workers, respectively, rose to 2.8% from 2.5%, and to 4.8% from 4.5%.

But the unemployment rate for Black Americans has been noticeably volatile, rising to 6.4% in March from 5.6% in February.

“Luckily, for many reasons, that came down. I think that speaks to last month really just being a statistical blip that happens because of small sample sizes, and having that come down now for April is very promising,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “And you’re seeing that happen for Black men and Black women alike.”

Gould added that she’s still keeping a close eye on the unemployment rate for Black Americans, which rose four months in a row prior to April. It’s a key indicator — or the canary in the coal mine — to watch, since historically marginalized groups often feel the effects of a soft labor market first, she said.

Among Black workers, the labor force participation rate crept lower, to 63.2% from 63.6%.

Meanwhile, the overall labor force participation rate held steady at 62.7%. The metric rose to 64.7% from 64.1% for Asian Americans, and climbed to 67.3% from 66.8% for Hispanic workers.

Gould pointed out another positive trend: that the employment rate ticked higher in April for “prime age workers,” or those from ages 25 to 54.

— CNBC’s Gabriel Cortes contributed to this report.

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