Unemployment Is Still Bad for Workers

The unemployment rate is up. And (what a surprise) women of color have been hit the hardest.

At least, that’s what numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) say. On Friday, BLS released jobs data from June which showed a 0.2 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate (from 3.8 percent in May to 4.0 percent in June). Though the uptick was small, the unemployment rate has been steadily decreasing for months – until now.

Some (including the president) have written off the increase as a fluke or even said that it’s a good thing for workers. After all, experts say, job growth is up! Hiring is strong! And that’s true – the number of job openings has surpassed the number of people seeking employment for the first time. But it’s still important to unpack BLS’s numbers and understand who is really losing out from the increase in unemployment.

Any guesses?


Within that seemingly tiny 0.2 percentage point increase are thousands of women – in particular, Black women – who lost their jobs or could not find work during June. The unemployment rate for Black women grew from 4.7 percent in May to 5.5 percent in June (FYI – that’s a 17 percent increase over 30 days!) What’s more, the unemployment rate for all women rose by 6 percent from May to June, whereas the unemployment rate for white men grew by only 1 percent.

That 0.2 is starting to feel like a bigger problem now, huh?

And thanks to the president’s awful policies, it’s likely that the unemployment rate will continue to increase. Most recently, Trump’s decision to incite a ‘trade war’ with China could severely hurt our economy and cause substantial job losses or even another recession. Because women of color are hit hardest during recessions, the huge disparity in unemployment rates between black women and white men that we saw in June could continue to widen in the coming months.

(Not to mention the fact that Black women face an enormous wage gap, wealth gap, and rampant workplace discrimination…even when the president is not sending the country into the Great Recession 2.0)


Our advice? Keep an eye out on BLS numbers and remind yourself who really suffers when there is an uptick in unemployment. We at the NWLC will be sure to do the same.