Unemployment rate lowest in 16 years, blacks and hispanics continue to rise

By Natalie Hee,

HOUSTON-- The U.S. unemployment is the lowest  it's been in 16 years according to the May jobs report.

All though the overall stats are great when you break down the numbers by race, the statistics are disproportionate to blacks and Hispanics, who fall lower than the overall levels.

The black unemployment rate currently sits at 7.5 percent and for Hispanics, it’s 5.2 percent compared to white unemployment at 3.7% percent and  Asians at 3.5 percent.

Houston is the one of the most diverse cities in the US, with blacks and Hispanics making up more than 60 percent of the population.

“What we haven’t done is figured out who are the people that aren’t doing well. The high unemployment rate within black communities is also attributed to the high incarceration rates. For instance, Houston has one of the highest incarceration rates and is one of the highest re-entry cities in the state. So now we have a large percentage of African Americans, particularly African American males, who are actually legally displaced from the employment and job market,” Marlon Smith with community development organization, BakerRipley, said.

Although the black unemployment rate is lower compared to other ethnic groups, it’s still improving steadily with the help of local groups like the Greater Houston Black Chamber.

“We are focused on empowering African American-owned businesses and we’re very hopeful that as we continue to do that, it positions businesses to actually be able to hire,” Chairman of the Board of GHBC Courtney Johnson-Rose said.

“We know that minority-owned businesses hire more minorities than other organizations and businesses, so we need to kind of begin to bridge those gaps,” Smith said.

At the end of the day, we can all agree that we’re thankful the job market is improving.