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Unemployment by Race, Ethnicity for February 2024

Unemployment data indicates persistent disparities in unemployment rates among the racial/ethnic groups studied. Over the period from January 2023 to February 2024, the Black population consistently experienced higher unemployment rates compared to other groups. In contrast, the Asian population, aside from a spike in November 2023, generally had the lowest unemployment rates.

Differences Between Groups:

- Black unemployment rates were 1.3% to 2.9% higher than those of the White group throughout the period. This suggests a significant and persistent gap that does not close over the months observed. Even when the Black unemployment rate decreased from its peak in November 2023, it was still higher than the rates for other groups. Black small business ownership has been on the rise in recent years, but it is important to note that Black-owned businesses have had less access to capital, higher loan denial rates, and less favorable loan conditions compared to businesses owned by other racial groups. These factors limit the ability of Black entrepreneurs to start and sustain businesses, which in turn influences employment opportunities available within their communities.

- The Asian group, despite experiencing the lowest unemployment rates overall, had a notable spike in November 2023 to 3.5%, which equals the peak rate for the White group during the same month. This suggests volatility in employment for this group. Historically, Asian Americans have a high rate of entrepreneurship (one out of every ten businesses in the U.S. is Asian-owned), and small business ownership, which can impact unemployment rates within this demographic. The significant increase in Asian unemployment in November 2023 could suggest that Asian-owned businesses faced challenges during that period, which could be due to an increase in anti-Asian attitudes.

- Hispanic unemployment rates were closer to those of the White group, generally staying within a 1.2% to 1.6% difference. However, this group saw its unemployment rate increase to meet that of the White and Asian groups at 5% by the end of the period.

Trends Over Time:

- While the White and Hispanic groups show relative stability in their unemployment rates with minor fluctuations, the Black group shows more variation with a clear peak in October, 2023.

- The Asian unemployment spike in November 2023 interrupts what is otherwise a low and stable unemployment rate, which might suggest a change in economic conditions due to anti-Asian attitudes that disproportionately affected this group during that time.

Overall, the data demonstrates that racial/ethnic disparities in unemployment remain a consistent feature of the employment landscape, with Blacks facing the most considerable challenges. The reasons behind the disparities and the November 2023 spike for the Asian group could be numerous, including but not limited to growth in anti-minority, anti-diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) attitudes, economic policy changes, shifts in industry employment, or broader social and economic factors affecting these communities differently.

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