REUTERS: The U.S. unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly in May, but not all workers benefited equally as joblessness among African Americans and Asians rose, signaling some minorities face a longer recovery as the economy slowly rebounds from the coronavirus shutdowns.
U.S. unemployment dropped to 13.3per cent in May from 14.7per cent in April – defying forecasts for it to approach 20per cent – as restaurants, bars and other businesses began to reopen and hire back workers let go because of shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Construction, healthcare and retail also added jobs in what proved to be a record monthly employment gain of 2.5 million jobs on the heels of April’s record loss of 20.7 million positions.
While it may signal the worst has passed, the data also served up another reminder of U.S. racial inequality at a moment when protests have erupted around the country over police violence against African Americans.
The unemployment rate for black workers edged up to 16.8per cent in May from 16.7per cent in April and for Asian workers it rose to 15per cent from 14.5per cent. In contrast, unemployment for white workers fell to 12.4per cent in May from 14.2per cent in April, a record drop.
(GRAPHIC – Unequal unemployment: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/jbyvrlbjgve/Pastedper cent20imageper cent201591370544406.png)
The household survey, from which the unemployment rate is derived, showed 3.8 million more Americans at work in May than in April, a 2.9per cent increase in overall employment. But the gains favored whites over blacks as well, with white employment increasing 3.3per cent while for African Americans it was rose by just 1.7per cent.
The statistics are a reminder that employment for black workers tends to rebound more slowly during an economic recovery.
In April, the gap between black and white unemployment widened to 4.4per cent as the rate dropped for white workers but rose for black workers.
(GRAPHIC – Black vs white unemployment: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xklpygjggpg/Pastedper cent20imageper cent201591371858818.png)
(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Dan Burns and Richard Chang)
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