When the African American unemployment rate was lower

When the African American unemployment rate was lower

On January 5, 2018 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the African American unemployment rate reached a record low of 6.8 percent unemployment, the lowest since the early 1970s, when the government began tracking the data.

Question: Is this the lowest unemployment rate the federal government has tracked for African Americans?

First, note that the unemployment rate does not fully factor in wages or quality of life, for Americans, post the Great Recession. The Great Recession recovery has not impacted all racial and ethnic groups of Americans equally. Africans Americans lost great financial wealth, including real estate, during the Great Recession.

The New York Times reported the following in 2013:

Full Report: Less-than-equal-racial-disparities-in-wealth-accumulation 2013

Many Americans, in 2018, may hold more than one job just to earn the equal level of incomes they may have received pre-Great Recession in one single job. Also, today, many Americans holding one single job may actually be earning less than they earned in their former one single job pre-Great Recession, should they have lost their former job.

There has been great attention and discussion on the historical low unemployment rate for African Americans. This historical flashback will take a brief review of the unemployment rates for African Americans before 1974.

Before the 1970s the United States had what is known as a Jim Crow system (American Apartheid). The Jim Crow system didn’t only impact civil rights and educational opportunities. Jim Crow greatly impacted the types of jobs and wages African Americans were able to have access to or obtain. Also,  Jim Crow was not only in the Southern states. A system segregation, of various degrees, existed in the northeast, mid-west and western United States pre-1970s.

The following laws were enacted by congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Republican) and President Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat):
Civil Rights Act of 1957
Civil Rights Act of 1960
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act)

Economic opportunities for African Americans did not begin to greatly appear until post 1969.

Affirmative Action greatly advanced the economics of white woman more than any other group in the United States.

Civic Issues in Race (Pennsylvania State University)

White women benefit most from affirmative action — and are among its fiercest opponents


The following information briefly covers the pre 1970s economic conditions in the United States for African Americans. when there was a lower unemployment rate compared to the unemployment rate release on January 5, 2018.

Historical Unemployment Data



1963 report on the 1950s unemployment rate for African Americans



The Korean War lasted approximately from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953.  Here is a a look at the unemployment rate during this era.

1951 African American unemployment near 5%

1952 – Detroit, Michigan

Historical Unemployment Data 1960-1973

Historical Unemployment Data 1960-1973

See link: U.S. unemployment rate 4.1 percent in December 2017

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