A man hands his resume over to an employer at the 25th Annual Central Florida Employment Council Job Fair on the Central Florida Fairgrounds. More than 80 companies recruited for over a thousand positions.
Paul Hennessy | LightRakete | Getty Images
Unemployment fell to 5.4% when the economy created 943,000 jobs in July, with strong increases across all sections of the population despite persistent inequalities in the labor market.
The unemployment rate for blacks and Hispanic Americans fell to 8.2% and 6.6% respectively, but the numbers are high compared to the unemployment rate for whites and Asians. Unemployment was lowest among whites at 4.8% and among Asians it fell to 5.3%.
These numbers represent a broad improvement on June when the overall unemployment rate was 5.9%. Broken down by group, it was 9.2% for blacks, 7.4% for Hispanic workers, 5.8% for Asians, and 5.2% for whites.
The total employment rate or the proportion of employed or jobseekers remained largely unchanged. However, it actually fell slightly among blacks, suggesting that part of the decline in unemployment may be due to some black workers dropping out of the labor force.
Still, blacks are almost as likely to be in the labor force as whites, but earn 23% less on a weekly basis at $ 799 compared to $ 1,012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics median wage data for the second quarter.
Hispanics, who are more labor market participants than any other demographic, earn 26% less than whites at $ 779 a week. Asians are the top earners overall, with an average weekly wage of $ 1,281.
Black and Hispanic workers are disproportionately represented in low-wage industries such as transportation and warehousing, and leisure and hospitality.
For example, black workers make up about 13% of the US workforce, but 21% of all transportation and warehouse workers. Hispanic workers make up 17% of the labor force but 24% in the leisure and hospitality industries.
The differences are even greater when one compares the wages of white men and women across the different demographic categories. White women earn 19% less, black women nearly 40% less, Hispanic women 43% less, and Asian women earn 7% less.
Asian men were the highest earners overall, with an average weekly wage of $ 1,473.
The general employment trend is moving in the right direction as the economy recovers from the pandemic, said Heidi Shierholz, former chief economist at the Department of Labor under the Obama administration.
"Because people of color were disproportionately affected by this downturn and we are recovering from it, workers of color are seeing disproportionate gains," said Shierholz, senior economist and policy director at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.