Black Unemployment Spikes to 16%

With discouraged job seekers exiting the labor force, the U.S. unemployment rate remained at 10% in December, according to the Department of Labor, Friday. African Americans were especially hard hit as the jobless rate rose, reaching 16.2% up from 12.1% the same time last year.

As the beleaguered economy hobbles along, employers shed 85,000 jobs last month holding the unemployment rate steady compared to November, but shooting up from 7.4% year-over-year.

“It’s still the case that things are going to get worse before they get better,” said Algernon Austin, director at the Economic Policy Institute.

Austin does not expect the increase in black unemployment to let up any time soon, as he projects the rate to peak at 17.2% in the third quarter. Overall, the Economic Policy Institute expects national unemployment to peak in the third quarter as well. “The economy is recovering form 2009 but it’s still weak,” Austin added.

Despite crippling job losses, the national unemployment rate was buoyed by the 661,000 fewer applicants in the job market. “We had overall job losses it’s just that the number of people who dropped out of the labor force were so large that the job losses didn’t register an increase in unemployment,” Austin said.

While employers were reluctant to boost the number of permanent positions in December, there was a spike in temporary hiring, with 46,500 workers hired.

Job losses continued across most industries, with manufacturing losing 27,000 jobs and construction shedding 53,000, while the leisure and hospitality industries and government also cut workers.

“Today’s numbers underscore that we still have work to do before we can be sure that all Americans have access to good jobs,” said Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. “We are working aggressively to reverse these conditions for American workers and their families.”