The March unemployment rate is close to epidemic levels, with black workers watching sharply

A ‘We’re hiring!’ The mark appears on a Starbucks

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The March jobs report showed unemployment rates near pre-Cowid levels across ethnic lines, with sharp improvements for black workers, who have been hardest hit by the epidemic.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.6% overall in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday. Nonfarm payrolls also added 431,000 jobs last month, slightly lower than economists expected.

Unemployment rates stabilized or decreased in March, with each population group tracked by the bureau, divided by race or ethnicity and gender.

Unemployment rates for each ethnic or racial group were within significant distance or slightly lower than where they stood in February 2020.

February 2020 March 2021 February 2022 March 2022
White 3.0% 5.3% 3.3% 3.2%
Black 6.0% 9.5% 6.6% 6.2%
Asian 2.4% 5.9% 3.1% 2.8%
Hispanic or Latino 4.4% 7.7% 4.4% 4.2%

Black workers saw the highest percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate, down from 6.6% in February to 6.2% in March.

“These series tend to be volatile, so you have to watch it for a long time. Over the past three months, black unemployment rates have fallen steadily, and labor force participation rates have remained relatively stable, “said Valerie Wilson, program director at the Institute for Economic Policy on Race, Ethnicity and Economics.

Wilson added, “It points in the right direction.”

When workers 20 years of age or older are segregated by gender, the male unemployment rate falls to 6.6% from 6.4% in March, and the female unemployment rate falls from 6.1% to 5.5% last month.

According to Wilson, this suggests that the unemployment rate for black Americans over the age of 20 may be better than the headline number. The unemployment rate for black workers aged 16 to 19 was 22.9% in March.

Significantly, job growth in the retail trade industry continued in March, said Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Last month, 49,000 jobs were added to the sector. Retail Employment Employment 278,000 salary above its level in February 2020. Women are heavily concentrated in the retail industry, Mason noted.

“Although the unemployment rate for black women and Latino women and people of color is still higher than the national average, it is half the rate at the beginning of the epidemic. So that’s good news, “he said.

According to Wilson, the March hard jobs report across the board could give the Federal Reserve confidence to continue its rate hike cycle as it works to tackle inflation.

“Another powerful job report like today and the fact that, for many groups, you can see the unemployment rate much closer… where it was before the epidemic, it probably fuels the idea that it’s time to raise their rates,” Wilson said.

– CNBC’s Crystal Mercedes contributed to this report.

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