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The African-American Unemployment Rate Rose to 14.4 Percent in June

The overall jobless rate remained steady at 8.2 percent.

By Joyce Jones

In the days leading up to the release of the June jobs report, economists feared that the month’s unemployment figure would show little change. They were right as far as the national rate is concerned. But the African-American unemployment rate rose to 14.4 percent, from 13.6 percent in May. The national rate was unchanged from 8.2 percent.

On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000 in the week ending June 30 to 374,000, its lowest level since mid-May. Experts often consider such drop-offs good news because they signal that there have been fewer layoffs. But pessimists say that it actually means that people have lost hope and have abandoned their job searches.

“I think it might be better than most people expect. The numbers that came out in terms of first-time jobless claims were much lower than expected, the ADP report says the economy added 76,000 more jobs than predicted and residential construction is up,” said Thomas Boston, an economist at Georgia Tech University.

He was not, however, so optimistic about the African-American unemployment figure, which he suggested could go up after last month’s “big dip.” If indeed the economy is improving, the old adage “first fired, last hired” will probably affect Black jobless numbers.

The June unemployment figure, Boston added, is very important because it will help determine whether the past three months’ disappointing numbers were a blip or a trend. A fourth consecutive month of worsening numbers, he warned, will help set the tone for the presidential election and could make the political landscape for President Obama very bumpy.

The African-American Unemployment Rate Rose to 14.4 Percent in June

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