The unemployment rate for African Americans jumped for a second straight month in June as workers left the workforce amid early signs of a cooling labour market in the United States, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

“That cooling has been uneven: the number of unemployed African Americans has increased by 267,000 since April, meaning they account for close to 90 percent of the 300,000 increase in overall joblessness during that period,” noted the report.

Black unemployment rose to 6 percent in June, the highest since August, and was once again nearly double that of White workers, whose rate fell to 3.1 percent, a Labour Department report showed.

“Black workers are often among the first to be fired as the economy begins to weaken, research shows, and the recent declines in employment could be a canary in the coal mine for the broader labor market,” said the report.

“If conditions continue to weaken, or even accelerate, the gains won by Black workers and other vulnerable groups could diminish quickly,” William Rodgers, director of the St. Louis Fed’s Institute of Economic Equity, was quoted as saying.

In April, Black unemployment dropped 4.7 percent, the lowest since federal officials started recording the data and it was the first time that the rate has fallen below the previous low of 5 percent in March. But these numbers also reveal that Black worker participation in the labour force is rapidly decreasing.

Participation for Black workers declined in April to 63 percent from 64.1 percent in March with Black male labour participation, dropping from 70.5 percent in March to 67.8 percent in April. The recent figures suggest a number of unemployed Black workers who have stopped searching for jobs

According to the Center for American Progress, the Black unemployment rate has been twice the White unemployment rate since 1972 when employment data was classified by race. As the chasm has remained in place for almost 50 years, the advocacy organisation views structural racism as the major contributing factor. –

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