Kniena Scott, center, talks with a prospective employer in Independence, Ohio. (Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
April’s unemployment figures are in, and the news is not good for African-Americans. The Black unemployment rate rose to 16.1 percent from 15.5 percent in March, making it more than double the 8 percent rate for whites.
The nation’s overall jobless figures ticked up slightly to 9 percent, which means that more people are looking for work. The number of jobs added to the economy was unexpectedly high at 240,000. It is the third consecutive month in which more than 200,000 jobs have been added. Employment rose in a number of service-providing industries, manufacturing and mining.
The rise in new jobs indicate that businesses are feeling more confident in the economy despite its weak start this year and soaring gas prices that have worried consumers and lawmakers alike.
“The U.S. labor market strengthened in April, damping concerns that rising energy costs are staunching the recovery, Sal Guatieri, an economist at BMO Capital Markets Economics told The Associated Press.
The average hourly rate rose in April to $22.95 from $22.93 in March. In addition, consumers are feeling more confident and retailers are reporting strong sales for April, which can be partially attributed to a late Easter. Auto companies also are reporting strong sales and factories plan to expand production this year to its fastest pace in more than two decades.
Analysts are predicting that the economy will continue to grow and that the factors that got it off to a slow start in the beginning of the year, such as unexpectedly bad weather in several regions of the nation, were probably temporary. But, that growth is contingent on gasoline prices stabilizing in the next few months and then settling at an approximately $3.50 a gallon or less by the end of the year.