Though the national unemployment rate dropped a tiny bit in August, from 7.4 to 7.3 percent, the rate for African-Americans jumped up from 12.6 percent to 13.3 percent, according to figures released by the U.S. Labor Department.
Overall, the economy added 169,000 jobs in August, which was lower than the 178,000 jobs that ADP estimated in its monthly report. But the Labor Department also reported that 323,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits filed last week were the lowest level since January 2008.
“It is steady as she goes in the job market,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, which helps ADP prepare the monthly report. “There is little evidence that fiscal austerity and health care reform have had a significant impact on the job market.”
In two weeks Federal Reserve officials will meet to decide whether to start scaling back their $85 billion-a-month bond-purchase program meant to spur economic growth.
“Today’s report paints a picture for the labor market that is not as rosy as most has expected,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors. “The jobs data give the Fed something to consider carefully before their impending decision on whether or not to begin tapering their bond purchase program.”
The statistics reveal an unchanging story for African-American teens, whose unemployment rate of 38.2 percent in August for those aged 16 to 19 was nearly twice the 20.5 percent rate for white teens of the same age. But the African-American teen jobless rate did drop slightly from the 38.8 percent reported in August of last year.
For more than a generation, ever since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started compiling a racial breakdown of unemployment data, the rate for African-Americans has been double that of whites, or very close to it. No matter who has occupied the White House, that phenomenon hasn’t much changed.
In June, the jobless rate for black teenagers peaked at 43.6 percent, compared to 20.4 percent for white teenagers. But the percentage of black teens with jobs increased slightly in August from the 28.7 percent in August of last year. There has been a persistent 10-point gap between the percentage of teens who have jobs and the higher number of teens who are looking and unable to find work.