Unemployment Rate Falls to 9.7%
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

0605_unemploymentThe Department of Labor reported today that in January, the U.S. unemployment rate decreased from 10.0% to 9.7%, and a survey of households shows that employment fell by 20,000 jobs. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, payroll employment has fallen by 8.4 million.

“Nominally, the drop looks good. But people being out of work and not looking for work has to be a big part of [the decreased unemployment rate],” says Roderick Harrison, a senior research scientist at Howard University and a fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

In fact, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers in January (up from 734,000 a year earlier). These are people not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

The number of people unemployed due to job loss decreased in January by 378,000 to 9.3 million, and household survey data developed by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 784,000 people are reporting that they have jobs.

On the other hand, the Department of Labor’s annual benchmarking process–which adjusted employment numbers from April 2008 until March 2009 based on tax records from employers–shows that America’s economy had 930,000 fewer jobs than previously believed. Additionally, 409,000 jobs have been lost since then.

“It’s bizarre,” says Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute. “[The findings] are going in opposite directions. It is as if employers reported fewer jobs, but fewer people are unemployed.”

While the overall unemployment rate decreased, it went up for blacks from 16.2% to 16.5%. The jobless rate for Hispanics and whites declined by 0.3% to 12.6% and 8.7%, respectively.

Harrison says that during most recessions, employment is usually worse for blacks: “Even when the recovery begins, it will take a while before it reaches the general black population.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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