US unemployment fee falls in December however rises for black ladies and Hispanic males

Commuters arrive at the Oculus station and mall in Manhattan on November 17, 2022 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

The U.S. jobless rate fell overall in December but rose, according to the latest nonfarm payrolls report for black women and Hispanic men.

Black women saw unemployment rise to 5.5% last month, up 0.3 percentage points from 5.2% in November, Labor Department data showed on Friday. Overall black employment remained stable at 5.7%, while the unemployment rate for black males fell to 5.1% from 5.4% last month.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for Latino males rose to 4% in December, up 0.4 percentage points from 3.6% in the previous month. The overall unemployment rate increased from 4.0% to 4.1%. Unemployment among Latino women also increased from 3.6% to 3.7%.

These numbers bucked the trend in the overall economy, which showed a fall in US unemployment from 3.7% to 3.5%. It was 0.2 percentage points below Dow Jones consensus expectations.

“What we’ve really seen over the past nearly three years since the pandemic broke out is that in terms of total numbers, we’ve regained all the jobs that were lost,” said Michelle Holder, a distinguished senior fellow at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

“But the nature of the industry mix has changed and has affected what we see in terms of the distribution of unemployment by gender, race and ethnicity. And it’s really disillusioning for black women and Latinx men,” added Holder.

A stronger-than-expected jobs report in December continued to point to a resilient labor market, although weaker-than-expected wage growth fueled some investors’ hopes of a slowdown in inflation.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 223,000 in December, more than the Dow Jones estimate of 200,000. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings for the month rose 0.3%, up 4.6% from a year earlier. These are compared to estimates of 0.4% and 5% increases.

“The labor market clearly remains strong,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “We are now seeing that the Household Survey and the Wage Survey are showing similar signs of strength, and wage growth appears to be decelerating.”

Still, parts of the economy where black women are overrepresented have shown little improvement or failed to return to their pre-pandemic levels, Holder said. Government employment was little changed and just 3,000 jobs were added in December. Notably, state government education employment fell by 24,000 due to strikes by university employees, according to the Labor Department.

According to Holder, both black women and Latino men are well represented in the leisure and hospitality industries. The sector added significant jobs in December but remains below its pre-pandemic levels. Employment in the sector rose by 67,000 last month but is still 932,000 or 5.5% below February 2020 levels.

“Those are two industries that haven’t recovered well during the pandemic,” Holder said. “It is what limits the ability of black women to return to where they were in relation to the pre-pandemic American workforce.”

Comments are closed.