The last jobs report the Labor Department will release this year painted a more optimistic picture of the unemployment landscape. The African-American unemployment rate for November was 12.5 percent, from 13.1 percent in October. The national unemployment rate also dipped, from 7.3 percent to a five-year low of 7 percent.
ADP, in its monthly report on job trends, predicted that 215,000 jobs were added to the economy last month. In addition, the Labor Department reported that the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 298,000, the lowest since May 2007 and a sign that businesses are laying off fewer workers.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics and co-author of the ADP report, said that "job growth appears to be picking up."
Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however, are extremely frustrated by the persistently high unemployment rate among African-Americans. A visibly angry Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri) said in an interview with BET.com yesterday that Black unemployment has been "ignored."
Like his Republican colleagues, Cleaver attributes the slowly but steadily declining national unemployment rate to the fact that many people have given up their job searches. If any other group had a jobless rate as high as African-Americans, he added, "a national crisis would have been declared."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) predicted the figure would continue to be "disappointing," which many may view as an understatement.
"Far too many African-Americans have been out of work chronically and when they do get re-employed, it's generally at a significantly lower wage," he told BET.com. "In addition, their skill sets begin to deteriorate. It's a national pressing issue and I don't believe we've done enough about it."
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