African-American Unemployment Rate Unchanged in February

The Black unemployment rate for February was 13.8 percent and the overall unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent.

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The sequester's automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts that took effect on March 1 may have some people more worried about job losses yet to come, but for now little has changed for African-Americans.

The Black unemployment rate for February was 13.8 percent, unchanged from January, according to figures released Friday morning by the Labor Department. The overall unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent, the lowest in four years. In addition, the economy added 236,000 jobs.

In the week ending March 2, the number of new claims for unemployment benefits dropped  from 347,000 to 340,000 the previous week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday. The total number of people receiving benefits for the week ending Feb. 16, the most recent data available, was 5,401,893, compared to 7,3387,649 during the same week in 2012.

The areas of biggest job growth were in professional and business services, which added 73,000 jobs; construction (48,000); health care (32,000); and retail sales (24,000). Government, however, lost 10,000 jobs.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor acknowledged that the Februrary report "is good news and shows some progress in the right direction," but tempered his positive reaction by adding that there's still a long way to go before the economy has fully recovered.

"We must ensure those looking for work have access to the skills and resources they need to fill existing positions. Next week, the House will consider the SKILLS Act to better connect workers with the education and training they need to compete for available jobs," Cantor said. "The more we can provide American workers with access to the skills they need for the changing job market, the more we can grow the economy, expand opportunity and make life work again for more people."

In the coming weeks House Democrats will unveil their "Make it in America" agenda, which aims to boost manufacturing jobs, and Cantor hopes the two parties can work together to turn jobs legislation into law.

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