Unemployment Dips for Second Consecutive Month

Overall joblessness may be on the decline, but for African-Americans it’s a whole different story.

Posted: 04/01/2011 11:50 AM EDT

A job seeker fills out a job application at a teen job fair held at the Swanson Public Library in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The overall U.S. unemployment rate continued its ongoing decline in March, dipping from 8.9% to 8.8%. By comparison, the rate for African-Americans seems more like a cruel April fool's joke.

The overall rate for African-Americans increased from 15.3% to 15.5%. For African-Americans aged 16-20, the figure rose from 38.4% to 42.1%. The figure for whites in the same age group, while lower by half, also increased from 21.3% to 21.6%.

The U.S. economy added 216,000 jobs in March, which came mostly from factories, retailers, the education and healthcare sectors and professional and financial services, The Associated Press reports.

Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, on his blog said that the last two months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years.

“We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by this administration—such as the payroll tax cut and business incentives for investment—are creating the conditions for sustained growth and job creation,” he wrote.

One reason for the lower unemployment rate, which has dropped a full percentage point in the last four months, is that many out-of-work people may not be looking for jobs, and therefore are not counted as unemployed. Once they start job hunting again, however, the unemployment rate will shoot up. The AP also reports that workers’ earnings remained flat in March. The average hourly rate was $22.87, unchanged from February.