WASHINGTON - The United States Department of Labor today released a new report The Black Labor Force in the Recovery.
U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke with Black Radio Network on whether the government is doing enough for minorities:
Key findings of the report:
African-Americans or blacks made up 12 percent of the United States labor force in 2010. Overall, 18 million blacks were employed or looking for work, representing 62.2 percent of all black people.
In 2010, about half of blacks aged 16 and older had a job and 17.5 percent of those employed worked part-time. Blacks are the only racial or ethnic group where women represent a larger share of the employed than do men — more than half (54.3 percent) of employed blacks in 2010 were women, compared to 46.3 percent among employed whites. Employed black women still earn less than employed black men.
More than a quarter of employed black workers aged 25 or older have earned a college degree, a share that exceeds that for Hispanics, but continues to trail whites. While the share that are college graduates has risen 20 percent in the past decade, the gap in the share of employed blacks and whites who are college graduates has not narrowed and a 10 percentage point gap remains.
Black workers are more likely to be employed in the public sector than are either their white or Hispanic counterparts. In 2010, nearly 1 in 5 employed blacks worked for the government compared to 14.6 percent of whites and 11.0 percent of Hispanics. Conversely, blacks are less likely than Hispanics and nearly as likely as whites to work in the private sector, not including the self-employed. Few blacks are self-employed — only 3.8 percent reported being self-employed in 2010 — making them about half as likely to be self-employed as whites (7.4 percent).
Half of black workers employed full time earned $611 or more per week in 2010, 80 percent of that earned by whites. The gap in earnings has been similar throughout the recession and recovery period.
The average unemployment rate for blacks in 2010 was 16.0 percent, compared to 8.7 percent for whites, and 12.5 percent for Hispanics. Historically, blacks have persistently higher unemployment rates than the other major racial and ethnic groups and the recent recession and recovery period has largely reflected this pattern.
Nearly half (48.4 percent) of all unemployed blacks were unemployed 27 weeks or longer in 2010, compared to 41.9 percent of unemployed whites and 39.3 percent of unemployed Hispanics. Moreover, blacks remained unemployed longer than whites or Hispanics in 2010, with a median duration of unemployment approaching 26 weeks.
The unemployment rate for blacks has remained high. In May 2011, the unemployment rate for blacks was 16.2 percent; down only 0.3 percentage points from the peak of 16.5 percent in March and April 2010.
The past few months have seen private sector job growth in areas such as transportation and warehousing as well as continuing employment gains in health care; both industries have a large share of black workers. However, blacks are more vulnerable to continuing local government job losses because they make up a disproportionate share of public sector workers.