The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

August 24, 2010
Data on the unemployed by race, ethnicity

Just as California and Sacramento regional jobless rates (12.3 and 12.7 percent, respectively) were released last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published a new study that fleshes out the demographics of the unemployed. Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2009 describes the continuing decline of employment in all major racial and ethnic groups.

In general Blacks and Hispanics suffered higher joblessness than Whites and Asians last year (14.8 and 12.1 percent compared to 8.5 and 7.3 percent). Of course, unemployment also varies with such factors as education, age, gender, family status. occupation and industry. The BLS report also considers these. Here are some highlights:

Between 2008 and 2009 the overall employment rate dropped 0.6 percentage points to 65.4 percent. Black employment fell 1.3 points to 62.4 percent. Asian employment declined 1.0 to 66.0 percent. Hispanic and White employment both fell 0.5 to 68.0 and 65.8 percent, respectively.

Between 2008 and 2009 employment rates fell faster for men than women across all racial/ethnic groups. The drop was biggest for Black men, 59.1 to 53.7 percent.

Generally speaking, workers with more education were more likely to be employed in 2009. But at every educational level, Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to be employed as compared to Whites and Hispanics.

Unemployed African Americans tended to be out of work for longer periods than the other demographic groups. In 2009, the median length of joblessness was 19.7 weeks for Blacks, compared to 16.6 weeks for Asians, 14.2 weeks for Whites and 13.5 weeks for Hispanics.

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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