Widgets Magazine

By Elise Gould and Tanyell Cooke, Economic Policy Institute

The black unemployment rate is typically twice as high as the white unemployment rate, and African Americans are often the last to feel the economic benefits during a recovery. These realities are reflected in the fact that the unemployment rate for young black graduates is still worse today than it ever was for whites in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

Young black college graduates (age 24–29) currently have an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent—higher than the peak unemployment rate for young white college graduates during the recovery (9.0 percent). Young blacks with only a high-school degree (age 17–20) face a grimmer picture: an unemployment rate of 28.4 percent, which is also higher than the peak unemployment rate for white high-school graduates during the recovery (25.9 percent).

Since these young graduates have the same basic degree and are in the same labor market position as their peers (whether high school or college), one would hope there would be little disparity in the unemployment rates of each group. The fact that having an equivalent amount of education and a virtual blank slate of prior professional work experience still does not generate parity in unemployment across race is evidence that factors such as discrimination, or unequal access to the informal networks that often lead to job opportunities are in play.