Press Releases | Inequality and Poverty


As the nation braces for rising unemployment, which forecasters say will reach 10.7% in the third quarter of this year, a new forecast shows even grimmer times ahead for the nation’s African Americans and Hispanics.

In “Downcast Unemployment Forecast,” Economic Policy Institute Policy Analyst Kai Filion reports that unemployment inequality between whites and minorities, already wide at the start of the recession, has grown dramatically and will continue to expand even further as unemployment continues to rise.

Among the consequences Filion predicts is a staggering poverty rate of 50% for African American children. His research offers a state-by-state look at the fast-rising unemployment among African Americans and Hispanics, expected to reach 17.2% among blacks and 13.9% among Hispanics nationally in the third quarter of the year. Both groups are expected to reach much higher rates in many states, however. Key findings and projections include:

  • • From the start of the recession to quarter three of 2010, white unemployment will have grown 5.0 percentage points, while the unemployment rate has increased much faster for blacks and Hispanics, which are expected to show recession-wide rises of 8.6 and 7.9 percentage points, respectively.
  • • In five states – Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina – African American unemployment will exceed 20% in the third quarter, with the highest rate of 27% projected in Michigan.
  • • In nine states – Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York – Hispanic unemployment will exceed 12%, with the highest level of 22.2% expected in Nevada, followed by California at 17.6%.
  • • The greatest growth in the white-black unemployment gap is predicted for Alabama, where unemployment will have grown 6.0 percentage points among whites and 15.2 points among blacks.
  • • A similar analysis between whites and Hispanics shows that the fastest-rising inequality is in Nevada, where the rise in unemployment for Hispanics will be about twice as fast as for whites by the third quarter – an increase of 7.3 percentage points among whites and 15.5 among Hispanics.
  • • The gender gap in unemployment is now the largest on record (since 1948 when these data were first collected). Nationally unemployment will climb to 11.7% among all men by the third quarter and to 9.7% among women. Gender disparities, too, vary by state, with the widest gap projected for Michigan of 20.0% unemployment for men versus 13.8% for women.

“These sobering data show us that the nation must do more to address the ongoing human tragedy brought on by this recession,” Filion concludes. “There is no reason why we should tolerate such outcomes – elected officials can and must put millions of Americans back to work with bold, targeted job creation policies.