Black Unemployment Rises Sharply During Biden's First Full Month in Office


The black unemployment rate sharply rose in February as many other Americans saw a decline in unemployment, according to data from the Labor Department.

The unemployment rate for black Americans rose from 9.2 percent in January to 9.9 percent in February, according to a news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

President Joe Biden had campaigned on a promise to make racial justice part of his economic agenda and said he would confront “growing inequity” and “the sting of systemic racism,” The Washington Post reported.

“The black and Latino unemployment gap remains too large,” he said in December, according to USA Today.

“And communities of color are left to ask whether they will ever be able to break the cycle where in good times they lag, in bad times they are hit first and the hardest, and in recovery they take the longest to bounce back.”

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Despite nominating labor economist Cecilia Rouse as the first black official to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, Biden is still falling short of meeting the record-low unemployment rates set by his predecessor.

Before the pandemic, the black unemployment rate fell to record lows of 5.4 percent in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Former President Donald Trump saw multiple months of record-low unemployment rates for black Americans, which had been steadily decreasing since 2011, The Washington Post reported.

“We’ve created 6.7 million new jobs since the election, and if I would have ever said that during the campaign, the fake news back there would have never let me hear the end of it,” Trump said during a November 2019 rally in Kentucky after setting the record.

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“Think of that — 6.7 — and today, just today, a record 158 million Americans are now employed, the highest level of employment in our country’s history. African-American unemployment just dropped to the lowest level ever recorded in the history of our country.”

Minorities were disproportionately impacted by pandemic job losses, Bloomberg reported.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said Thursday he and his colleagues have a “high standard” for what full employment means for the recovering economy, according to The New York Times.

Powell said, “4 percent would be a nice unemployment rate to get to, but it will take more than that to get to maximum employment.”

February’s job report showed that in many other areas of the economy, there was a hiring surge and the overall unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent, according to CNBC.

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“Today’s jobs report sets an extremely positive tone as we move into warmer months and the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations accelerates,” the head of global markets at Citizens Bank, Tony Bedikian, said.

“While the labor market still has a lot of ground to make up, we are in a different place than we were a year ago and the economy seems poised for a strong rebound.”

The hospitality and leisure sector saw the most job gains with an increase of 355,000 jobs as restrictions were lifted in some areas.

There are still 8.5 million fewer Americans with jobs in February 2021 than in February 2020.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith