American Indian workers suffered recession-level rates of unemployment long before the recession began. Like African American and Hispanic workers, American Indian workers experience persistently high rates of unemployment in good times and bad. Algernon Austin, EPI’s director of its race, ethnicity and the economy program compares the national averages of American Indian unemployment to white unemployment.
People who have suffered long periods of unemployment often become discouraged and stop looking. In that case, the employment-to-population ratio can give an added dimension to the labor market distress within these groups. Austin compares employment-to-population ratios, as well as unemployment rates, to that of whites, by region, in an issue brief, American Indians and the Great Recession. Nationally, the employment-to-population ratio for American Indians is lower than for whites, but the gaps are very large in Alaska, the Northern Plains and the Southwest – areas where the ratio of Native-to-non-Native population is among the highest.
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