Prosperity Watch Issue 24, No. 2: Economic Recovery Continues to Bypass African Americans

More than three years into the economic recovery, it is clear that communities of color are being left behind. After bearing the brunt of the Great Recession’s job losses, African American workers are continuing to lag behind their non-minority counterparts in North Carolina and in the nation as a whole.

Within North Carolina, the unemployment rate for African Americans remained more than 8 percentage points above the state average at the end of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in the fourth quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate for African Americans was 17.3 percent—more than double the Hispanic/Latino and White averages of 7.4 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively (see chart below). As a result, North Carolina had the third highest African American unemployment rate in the nation and the highest rate in the South at the end of 2012.

At the same time, African Americans in North Carolina are slipping further behind their counterparts across the nation, with an unemployment rate more than 3 percentage points greater than other African Americans in the nation as a whole, yet more evidence that our state is experiencing a slower recovery compared to the rest of the nation.

While these racial disparities have persisted nationally for the last fifty years, the unemployment rate in North Carolina illustrates the need for state lawmakers to invest in collective public structures that build the foundation for an inclusive economy.

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