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Monthly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a table with the (un)employment numbers by race, sex, and age, plus a news release with further breakdown of the numbers:

Additional articles:

Race and Male Employment Cover Race and Male Employment in the Wake of the Great Recession Race and Male Employment
Race and Male Employment in the Wake of the Great Recession (2012) >>

Recent publications from EPI

High Black Unemployment Issue Brief The State of Working America
The State of Working America (2012) >>


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Featured Issues >> Employment Statistics

Employment is the primary source of income for most Americans, and employment income has always played a significant role in the economic well-being of low-income families as well.

Like other indicators of social and economic well-being, stark differences in employment and unemployment rates exist along lines of race and gender. African Americans have historically and continue to experience much higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of employment than their white counterparts, a fact that can be easily obscured by the overall numbers.

Each month, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the previous month’s employment and unemployment numbers, CFFPP posts the overall rates and highlights the rates for African American men, women, and teenagers.

Unemployment Rates

The unemployment rate reflects the percentage of Americans without work who actively sought employment in the previous month. People who have been discouraged from searching or who work part-time but would prefer to work full-time are not included.

July 2014
Total unemployment rate: 6.2% (compared to 6.1 in June)
  White Americans African Americans
Overall unemployment 5.3 11.4
Men - unemployment 4.8 11.1
Women -unemployment 4.9 10.1
16-19 year olds 18.3 34.9


Employment Rates

The employment rate is the percentage of the civilian labor force that is employed.

July 2014
Total employment-population ratio: 59.0% (unchanged from June)
  White Americans African Americans
Overall employment 59.7 54.6
Men - employment 68.8 60.4
Women - employment 55.0 56.0
16-19 year olds 29.9 16.3

The jobs story for white adults again remains largely unchanged in July, with numbers that continue to hold steady. The employment picture for African American adults is more mixed. The percentage of black adults with a job remains higher than it has been since February 2009, however the unemployment rate also increased. It is likely that unemployment rose as a result of more adults re-entering the workforce and searching for a job. The numbers for African American women fluctuated the most in July due to more women looking for work.

Unemployment numbers of note:



Overall, the news about (un)employment remains the same:

  1. the United States needs to create more jobs for the millions of Americans who are out of work, and
  2. declines in unemployment have largely been driven by people dropping out of the labor force.

As of July, 3.2 million unemployed Americans have been actively looking for work for more than 6 months. An additional 2.2 million people remain marginally attached to the labor force, which means that they are unemployed, interested in and available to work, but they did not actively search for a job in the past month and are not included in the official unemployment numbers.

A primary reason the unemployment rate is lower today than in recent years is because fewer people are looking for work. If a person becomes discouraged in their job search and stops looking, they are not counted in the unemployment rate.

Americans need more jobs, and we need to invest in policies that create jobs, including Unemployment Insurance, food stamps (SNAP), and other economic support programs for low-income families and individuals. Providing resources to those who are currently unemployed or under-employed puts money into the economy, which in turn supports jobs and generates job growth.

Highs and lows:

Looking back on 2013:

If you have comments or questions about about the monthly employment numbers, please contact Jill Groblewski.