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Black unemployment falls to lowest level on record – The Denver Post

Black unemployment fell to 6.8 percent in December, the lowest ever recorded by the U.S. Labor Department since it began tracking the black unemployment rate in 1972.

Economists say it’s a sign the recovery from the Great Recession is finally starting to help a wider swath of the U.S. population.

During the aftermath of the financial crisis, black unemployment soared to 16.8 percent in 2010, meaning more than one out of every six African-Americans was looking for a job but could not find one. The rate has steadily declined since, breaking the prior all-time low of 7 percent that was set in 2000 during Dot-com boom.

“6.8 percent unemployment rate for African-Americans is lowest on record. Good news, except pretty bad news that this is the best ever,” tweeted Dean Baker, an economist at the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The white unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. The black-white gap in hiring and pay has existed for decades, with the black unemployment rate typically more than double that of whites. But the gap has narrowed slightly to 1.85 times higher unemployment for blacks instead of 2 times more.

African-Americans face a number of barriers to employment, including biases from recruiters. An oft-cited study in 2004 took the same résumés and put more “white sounding names” and “black sounding names” on others. The study found that employers were 50 percent more likely to call in the person with the white sounding name for an interview, even though the two résumés had exactly the same qualifications.

The experiment has been repeated several times since with similar results, leading some minority candidates to attempt “résumé whitening” when they apply for jobs.

Beyond unemployment, African-Americans lag far behind whites on pay, wealth and home ownership.

“If you are black and a college graduate, your net worth is still typically two-thirds that of whites who dropped out of high school,” says Darrick Hamilton, an economist at The New School who studies race and opportunity in America.

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