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News from EPI African American and Hispanic unemployment is higher than white unemployment in nearly every state

While there have been state-by-state improvements in job prospects for black and Hispanic workers, their unemployment rates remain high relative to those of white workers, according to EPI Economic Analyst Janelle Jones in her latest quarterly analysis of unemployment by state, race, and ethnicity.

Despite improvements, the highest African American state unemployment rate (9.7 percent in Louisiana) in the second quarter of 2017 was almost double the highest white state unemployment rate (5.0 percent in New Mexico). In fact, the lowest state unemployment rate for African Americans (5.6 percent in Arkansas) is still higher than the highest state unemployment rate for white workers.

“Historically, the unemployment rate for African Americans is consistently double the unemployment rate for whites. It’s only when the economy reaches genuine full employment that African American unemployment rates come down to acceptable levels,” said Jones. “Policymakers, especially those at the Federal Reserve, should not slow down economic growth until the recovery reaches working people from all ethnic groups and in every state.”

Nationally, in the second quarter of 2017 African Americans had the highest unemployment rate, at 7.4 percent, followed by Latinos (5.1 percent), whites (3.6 percent), and Asians (3.4 percent).

Other key findings include:

  • The highest African American unemployment rate was in the District of Columbia (12.8 percent) and Louisiana (9.7 percent), and lowest in Arkansas (5.6 percent).
  • The highest Hispanic state unemployment rate is in Connecticut (8.9 percent) and lowest in Colorado (1.9 percent). Colorado was the only state where the Hispanic unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate.
  • The Asian unemployment rate was highest in Washington (4.5 percent) and lowest in Massachusetts (2.1 percent).
  • The highest white state unemployment rate is 5.0 percent in New Mexico, and the lowest is 1.5 percent in South Dakota.