Commentary: Black Women Show Some Job Gains

The Black job situation is in crisis mode, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t glimmers of hope amid the trials.

Posted: 05/25/2012 12:00 PM EDT

The doom-and-gloom stories of Black unemployment in our modern world are many.

Black joblessness in America has exceeded 10 percent since 2008, and it is expected to exceed 10 percent through 2015, at least. What’s worse, it’s been that high for most of the past five decades. Over in socially progressive Britain, where people tend to think things are easier for minorities, Black unemployment is worse than it is in America, with 22 percent of Black males facing unemployment in 2011.

Exacerbating issues is that despite all the problems the Black community has with unemployment, many legislators drag their feet on providing benefits to help the out-of-work, making it that much more difficult for them to keep their heads above water.

Overall, the Black job situation is in crisis mode, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t glimmers of hope amid the trials.

In a new piece from Bloomberg Businessweek, Matthew Philips notes that though Blacks are still suffering high rates of unemployment, the situation for Black women is improving at a quick clip.

Digging through the demographic data in the latest job numbers, one of the clear winners of the last few months has been black women. Since December, they’ve knocked more than 3 percentage points off their unemployment rate, from 13.9 percent to 10.8 percent. That’s the biggest drop over the last five months for any single demographic group broken out by race, sex, and age by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.



Unemployment among black men dropped from 15.7 percent in December to 13.6 percent in April. For white women, the rate has essentially remained unchanged at 6.8 percent, which is the same rate as white men. Total white unemployment remains well below total black unemployment, though the gap has narrowed over the past year. In April 2011, white unemployment was exactly half that of black unemployment, 8.1 percent compared with 16.2 percent. Now the difference is 6.8 percent compared with 13 percent.

Though some unemployment rates change for the better because frustrated people simply stop looking for jobs, Philips reports that the numbers don’t indicate that’s what has happened with Black women. Rather, he says, they’ve been getting jobs in “education, health care, and retail,” three sectors that saw the biggest job gains last month.

This isn’t perfect, of course, the unemployment rate for Black women remains at just above 10 percent. But it’s always important to note that good news exists amid the bad news. Despite how it may feel at times, the situation is never truly hopeless.


The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photos from left:  Birmingham News /Landov, Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images,Rick Gershon/Getty Images)

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