The Department of Labor announced Friday 2.5 million jobs were added in May, however, unemployment among African Americans has hit its highest rate in a decade.
According to The New York Times, the numbers defied the expectations of economists, who were predicting unemployment to exceed 20%, but were hopeful the recovery would be faster than originally expected. However, The Hill reported African American unemployment hit its highest rate in a decade in May, despite an economy-wide reduction in unemployment.
For African Americans, the unemployment rate rose from 16.7% to 16.8%. The new rate is the highest rate in more than a decade, according to an analysis of statistics by Bloomberg.
Unemployment for Latinos fell from 18.9% to 17.6% but is still the highest among all racial and ethnic groups surveyed by Bloomberg. Many are pointing to states reopening as a reason for the rise in employment, even as coronavirus cases rise in many states.
Still, job openings are far below normal despite talks of another coronavirus relief package having all but disappeared as the protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have become the country’s biggest topic.
The report noted “employment rose sharply in leisure and hospitality, construction, education and health services, and retail trade,” even as government jobs continued their decline.
“What this is telling us is that at least part of the pain in April was due to people being laid off or furloughed who still had very strong connections to their employers,” Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI in Washington, told the Times. “As good and surprising as this report was, this may just be the low-hanging fruit. These may have been the easiest workers to bring back.”
Economists are unsure if the unemployment peak created by the coronavirus is over. Between the rash of protests going on daily across the country and people venturing out more often due to the warm weather, many are now wondering not if, but when we will see a significant rise in cases.