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8.5 percent for Whites, and 7.3 percent for Asians. Historically, the jobless rate for Blacks in general has been at least twice that for Whites, whereas the unemployment rate for Hispanics has hovered between the rates for Whites and Blacks. From 2008 to 2009, unemployment rates increased for all the major race and ethnicity groups. (See tables 1 and 10.)

  • Higher unemployment rates for Blacks and Hispanics occur across all major age and sex groups. In 2009, the rates for Black adult men and women (age 20 and older) were 16.3 and 11.5 percent, respectively, compared with 11.6 and 10.6 percent for Hispanic adult men and women, respectively. In comparison, the unemployment rates were 8.8 percent for White adult men and 6.8 percent for White adult women. The unemployment rates for Asian adult men and women were somewhat lower, at 7.5 and 6.2 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

  • Teenagers ages 16 to 19 are especially vulnerable to joblessness. Among the major race and ethnicity groups in 2009, Black teenagers had the highest unemployment rate (39.5 percent), compared with

    • 30.2

      percent for Hispanics, 26.4 percent for Asians, and 21.8 percent for Whites.

  • Unemployed Blacks tend to be jobless for longer periods than unemployed workers in other groups. In 2009, the median duration of unemployment for Blacks was 19.7 weeks, compared with 16.6 weeks for Asians, 14.2 weeks for Whites, and 13.5 weeks for Hispanics. The median duration of unemployment reached record highs in 2009 for all race and ethnicity groups. (See table 11.)

  • Of the 14.3 million total unemployed people in 2009, 64 percent (9.2 million) were job losers (that is, those workers who lost their jobs). Reentrants to the labor force (22 percent), job leavers (6 percent), and new entrants (7 percent) constituted the balance of unemployed people. Over the year, the number of job losers who did not expect to be recalled to work (that is, those workers who were not on temporary layoff) accounted for nearly 90 percent of the increase in unemployed job losers. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of people who were not laid off temporarily increased significantly among all the major race and ethnicity groups. (See table 12.)

  • Black men are more likely than other men to be out of the labor force. Among men ages 25 to 54, the proportion of Blacks who did not participate in the labor force in 2009 was higher than that of Whites, Asians, and Hispanics. Among women of the same age, the percentage of Hispanics not in the labor force was higher than that for Whites, Blacks, and Asians. (See table 13.)


  • In 2009, Blacks made up 11 percent of the civilian labor force, but also made up 23 percent of people marginally attached to the labor force. People marginally attached to the labor force are those individuals who were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the previous 12 months—but not in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Hispanics and Asians were represented nearly proportionately among the marginally attached. Blacks also made up a high proportion of discouraged workers (25 percent) in 2009. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, are people who are not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.


  • Hispanics and Blacks have considerably lower earnings than Asians and Whites. In 2009, the median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers were $541 for Hispanics and $601 for Blacks, compared with $757 for Whites and $880 for Asians. The earnings of Black men ($621) and Hispanic men ($569) were 65 and 60 percent, respectively, of the earnings of Asian men ($952). Among women, the median earnings of Black women ($582) and Hispanic women ($509) were 75 and 65 percent, respectively, of the earnings of Asian women ($779). The median earnings for White men and women were 89 and 86 percent of their Asian counterparts in 2009. (See table 14.)

  • For men, the earnings disparity between Black or Hispanic workers and Asian or White workers holds across all major occupational groups. For example, in 2009, median usual weekly earnings of Asian men ($1,357) and White men ($1,266) working full time in management, professional, and related occupations were well above the earnings of Hispanic men ($1,017) and Black men ($922) in the same occupations. This disparity is evident toward the other end of the earnings spectrum as well; Hispanic and Black men employed in production, transportation, and material moving occupations had median earnings of $516 and $582 per week, respectively, which were less than the median earnings of their White ($666) or Asian ($617) counterparts. (See table 16.)

  • Among women, the earnings gap is generally smaller than the earnings gap for men, and, in some major occupational categories, earnings levels are fairly close. For example, in service occupations, the earnings of White and Black women were about 93 percent of the earnings of Asian women in 2009, and the earnings of Hispanic women were 84 percent of that of Asian women.

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