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Black Unemployment Rate at Lowest Level Since September 2008

Things are looking up for Black workers—at least according to the U.S. Labor Department.

The unemployment rate for African-Americans plummeted in June, from 11.5 percent in May to 10.7 percent last month—its lowest level since September 2008. The plunge in the Black rate accompanied a drop in the overall national unemployment rate from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent in May.

The Labor Department had especially good news for Black women, whose numbers are now in single digits at 9 percent, which is their lowest level since 2008.

The good news was reflected in a Gallup poll released in June, showing that 45 percent of Americans are working full-time, which Gallup said was one of the highest rates since it began tracking the figure four years ago.

“A strong job market is obviously a major pillar of a healthy economy, along with economic growth and strong consumer spending. While few might agree that the economy has fully recovered from the Great Recession, there is no doubt that the job market is much stronger now than in prior years,” the Gallup report said.

The now-robust U.S. economy added a total of 288,000 jobs in June, with the gains coming in so many areas that the Labor Department described them as “widespread.” The leading areas were professional and business services, retail and food services. The positive numbers were seen on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 63 points, topping 17,000 for the first time.

The addition of 288,000 jobs came as a surprise to Wall Street analysts, who had predicted an addition of 215,000 jobs in June and no change in the unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

The number of people out of work and actively looking for a job dropped from 9.8 million to 9.5 million, which mirrors the addition of 288,000 jobs.

The Labor Department reported that the number of long-term unemployed—those without work for 27 weeks or more—declined by 293,000 in June, to 3.1 million, indicating that the drop in the unemployment rate was real.

The Labor Department also revised the April and May jobs numbers up, changing the April job gains from 282,000 to 304,000 and the May numbers rose from 217,000 to 224,000.

The actual breakdown in June looked like this: 67,000 jobs added in professional and business services, such sectors as consulting, computer and architectural services; 40,000 jobs added in retail employment; 33,000 added in food service; 21,000 added in healthcare.


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