Bloomberg Línea — Unemployment in the US fell to 3.5% from 3.7% during December, the Labor Department reported, and although the decline was small, it was 0.2 percentage points below Dow Jones’ expectations. However, unemployment rose among Latino men and Black women.
Among Black women, unemployment rose to 5.5% in December, 0.3 percentage points higher than in November (5.2%), despite the fact that employment among the overall Black community held steady at 5.7%, while the unemployment rate for Black men dropped to 5.1% in December from 5.4% the previous month.
Another significant development is the rise in unemployment among Latino men, which was 4% in December, marking a 0.4-percentage-point increase from the 3.6% in November.
Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate in that community rose to 4.1% from 4.0%, and unemployment among Latina women also increased from 3.6% to 3.7%.
Causes of unemployment
While employment did recover somewhat among non-farming payrolls, adding 223,000 jobs, what changed, especially after the peak of the pandemic, is the mix of where those jobs were generated, and which is directly affecting the Latino and Black communities, Michelle Holder, senior research fellow at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, told CNBC.
Black women, like Latino men, are heavily represented in the leisure and hospitality sector, according to Holder. That sector added a significant number of jobs in December, but still remains below its pre-pandemic levels.
Employment in the sector increased by 67,000 last month, but remains at 932,000, or 5.5%, below where it was in February 2020.
“Those are two industries that have not recovered well during the pandemic,” Holder said. “This is what limits the ability of Black women to get back to where they were with respect to the US labor force before the pandemic.”
On the other hand, segments where Black women are overrepresented showed little improvement or failed to regain their pre-pandemic employment levels, according to Holder.
The number of government sector employees changed little, adding only 3,000 jobs in December; and in particular, state government education employment fell by 24,000 due to strikes by university employees, according to the Labor Department.