Sunday, July 21, 2024

Unemployment Rates Rise in Black and Latina Women, Labor Force Set to Increase

The unemployment rate for Black and Latino women increased in February, but the number of people looking for jobs rose, too.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate has increased from 3.4% to 3.6%. Women aged 20 and over have had unemployment rates rising slightly to 3.2% from 3.1%.

The difference between Black and Latino unemployment rates is stark. Black women saw their unemployment rate jump to 5.1% from 4.7%. Among Latino women, it jumped to 4.8% from 4.4%.

Both groups saw their labor force participation rates rise, as well. For Black women, the number jumped from 62.6% to 63%. The labor force participation rate for Latino women rose slightly to 61.3% from 61.1%, while the employment-population ratio remained at 58.4%.

This rise in the unemployment rate and labor force participation could suggest a broader weakness in the labor market, even amid stronger-than-expected jobs.

“The Federal Reserve has characterized the labor market as, ‘Oh, the labor market is so tight, employers can’t find anybody,’ but women went out, they looked, and some of them did get jobs, but a lot of them didn’t,” Spriggs said.

Valerie Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s program on race, ethnicity, and the economy, attributed lower employment among Black women to a slow increase in the public sector, which employs more Black workers in education. Meanwhile, leisure and hospitality continue to recover from losses during the pandemic, which boosts employment among Latino women.

“One of the bright spots or positive things in this report in terms of women’s employment is that, again, looking at industries that employ a significant number of women, we saw increased employment in those,” said Wilson, citing rises in health care, government, retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

“So the fact that those industries are still adding jobs suggests to me that there are continuing to be additional employment opportunities for women, at least as far as the demographics of those industries are concerned,” she said.