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News from EPI Slow but steady jobs recovery continues along racial lines

The economy’s slow but steady recovery continued along racial lines in the third quarter of 2016, according to the latest analysis of state unemployment by race and ethnicity, from EPI Economic Analyst Janelle Jones.

The white unemployment rate was lowest in South Dakota (1.2 percent) and highest in West Virginia (6.2 percent), while the Hispanic unemployment rate was highest in Pennsylvania (11.8 percent) and lowest in Virginia (2.8 percent) and the African American unemployment rate was lowest in Vermont (6.2 percent) and highest in Illinois (14.2 percent).

South Dakota also had the lowest white unemployment rate in the preceding four quarters, while West Virginia has had the highest white unemployment rate for six consecutive quarters. Illinois has had the highest black unemployment rate for four consecutive quarters.

Over the third quarter of 2016, 19 states saw their unemployment rates decline, while 30 states saw unemployment rise. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates below their prerecession levels. State unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.6 percent in South Dakota to a high of 6.7 percent in Alaska.

“The third quarter of 2016 saw continued slow—but steady—improvement in the labor market with change in racial trends,” said Jones. “African American unemployment continues to be about twice as high as white unemployment, which is proof that the recovery has not reached every corner of society.”

Consistent with the long-standing trend, at the national level African Americans had the highest unemployment rate in September 2016 at 8.4 percent, followed by Hispanics (5.7 percent), whites (4.9 percent), and Asians (3.9 percent).