For the second month in a row, the Black unemployment rate decreased, and the economy added more than 200,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department.
The unemployment rate for Blacks decreased slightly from 11.6 percent in April to 11.5 percent in May and was two percentage points lower than the 13.5 percent rate recorded a year ago. Meanwhile, the jobless rate for whites barely rose from 5.3 percent in April to 5.4 percent in May.
While the jobless rate for Black men over 20 years old increased from 10.8 percent to 11.5 percent in May, the unemployment rate for white men decreased from 5.1 percent to 5 percent.
Black women continued to make modest gains in the job market this year. The unemployment rate for Black women fell from 10.4 percent to 10 percent in May, compared to white women who saw their jobless rate climb from 4.7 percent to 4.9 percent last month.
Last year, more Blacks and whites were either working on looking for jobs, a measure recorded as the labor force participation rate. In May 2013, that rate was 61.7 percent for Blacks and 63.8 percent for whites. Now, the participation rate is 60.8 percent for Blacks and 63.1 percent for whites.
According to the Labor Department, the health care and social assistance industries experienced big gains in May.
“The health care industry added 34,000 jobs over the month, twice its average monthly gain for the prior 12 months,” stated the Labor Department’s monthly report. “Employment rose by 21,000 in social assistance, compared with an average gain of 7,000 per month over the prior 12 months.”
In a statement on the latest jobs report, Chad Stone, chief economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that job losses suffered during the Great Recession have been erased.
“Because the working-age population has grown over the past six and a half years, however, the number of jobs remains far short of the number of jobs needed to restore full employment.”
Stone said that long-term unemployment, roughly a third of all people who are unemployed, remains a significant concern. Blacks are more likely to suffer long periods of unemployment, compared to whites.