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The Proof is in the Numbers: Black Women are Still Unemployed

Someone please tell the president that Black women face an unemployment rate at nearly twice the rate of white men. If you have been watching the news, you heard the President brag about the Black unemployment rate. Although the unemployment rate for Black workers was at a record low in December, the unemployment rate ticked back up in January – by 13 percent. And the overall Black unemployment rate of 7.7 percent is nothing to brag about, especially when the overall unemployment rate has held steady at 4.1 percent for the last four months.

The unemployment rate for Black workers is too high. Jobs data for January released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that Black workers are unemployed at over two times the rate of white workers.

The president sent a tweet to Jay Z last weekend and gave himself a pat on the back during the State of the Union address when he made the critical yet common mistake when he failed to recognize the individual experience of Black women. The data show that the unemployment rate for Black women this month (6.6 percent) was nearly twice the rate of white men’s (3.4 percent).

These obstacles are not new for Black women. In fact, if you are anything like me, you were very surprised to learn that the president’s State of the Union speechwriters hadn’t read any of our numerous blogs on the employment obstacles Black women face.

We ran the numbers and did the research and found that Black women face a steep wage gap, higher unemployment rates, employment discrimination, and a wealth gap. Until we enact policies that address the needs of Black women, there is no room for celebration.

However, the president pointed to a Black unemployment rate that has steadily fallen since 2011 to celebrate the Republican tax plan.  But the tax plan is set to leave many Black families behind. More than half of households with a Black householder (56 percent) are in the bottom two income quintiles. Yet our analysis shows 75 percent of the tax benefits will go to the top twenty percent of households.

At NWLC we are focused on centering women and girls of color. We will continue to recognize and fight for Black women until we can brag about Black women making $1 for every $1 paid to white, non-Hispanic men instead of just 63 cents; until less Black women are able to say #metoo; and until the unemployment rate for Black workers is equal to the unemployment rate of white workers.

This is not too much to ask for and we will continue to fight for it.

It's time for change, and we must act now. Time's up.