By Bryce Covert
The unemployment rate for black people was 11 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and was 10.4 percent in February. Both rates are still higher than the peak the national unemployment rate reached at the worst point of the recession — 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute.
While the national unemployment rates at the end of 2014 for white and Hispanic workers were both within 1 percentage point of where they were before the recession hit, the black unemployment rate was still 2.4 percentage points higher than at the end of 2007, before the crisis. State-level data draws an even starker picture. In Wisconsin, the black unemployment rate was nearly 20 percent last year, and 26 states and Washington, DC saw double-digit unemployment rates for their black residents. The highest the white rate reached in any state, on the other hand, was 7 percent in Nevada.
Things don’t look poised to get all that much better for black Americans. The overall unemployment rate is projected to fall to 5.4 percent by the end of this year, and white unemployment is expected to remain around 4.5 percent. But black workers are expected to have a 10.4 percent rate by the end of the year. While that’s a good deal higher than the 8.6 percent rate they experienced before the beginning of the recession, black Americans have experienced double-digit unemployment for most of the last half century.