African American Unemployment Rate Shrinks to 15.8%

The unemployment rate among African Americans improved slightly in February, shrinking from 16.5% to 15.8% for the month, according to Labor Department statistics released Friday.  In contrast, the overall jobless rate remained steady at 9.7%.

Despite the contraction of the African American jobless rate, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says there is still much work to be done.

“There is an extremely high number of unemployment in the African American community,” she said. “We want to work with Congress to make sure that more money is available to programs such as Pathways Out of Poverty, which targets high unemployment areas through unique job training opportunities such as retrofitting or weatherizing.”

Overall 36,000 jobs were vaporized last month, leaving 14.9 million people out of work. The U.S. economy has lost some 8.4 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. The latest job cuts continued across the employment spectrum. Construction jobs fell by 64,000 and information industry jobs dropped by 18,000, while temporary help services added 48,000 jobs. Healthcare continues to trend upward. Manufacturing and retail trade employment remained unchanged.  Severe winter weather in parts of the country may have affected payroll employment and hours.

Today’s numbers show that the economy is moving in the right direction, says Solis.  “Getting Americans back to work remains one of our main priorities,” said Solis. “It’s important that we look at the trends and the trends show that we are loosing fewer jobs per month which is closer to consistent job creation.”