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March 2016 Monthly Jobs Analysis


There are still nearly 1 million young African Americans actively looking for a job

March jobs numbers are out today and they largely show good news, with the addition of 215,000 new jobs and the unemployment basically holding steady at 5 percent. Measuring employment is a complicated endeavor as there are thousands of ways to slice and compare the data: historically, by demographics, by education attainment among many others.

At Young Invincibles, we monitor the monthly report and break it down by age,  race and ethnicity as well as by groups that are particularly vulnerable to economic downturns and don’t always benefit from recoveries. Because the sample size for these groups is smaller, the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t adjust for changes in the season, one accurate way to look for changes in the workforce is looking back a year to date. The idea is that the month of March has basically the same seasonable characteristics as any other March in a different year.

Below are the unemployment rates for March 2015 and March 2016, broken out by age and race and ethnicity:


The good news is that the unemployment rate has gone down for most groups. Young Asian adults is the only exception, although they do have the lowest unemployment rate, 4.8 percent, of any group in this analysis. Young Latinos in particular have seen their job prospects improve, dropping two points in the last year, and achieving parity with young adults in general. However, while African American young adults have also seen improvement, it is troubling to see their unemployment rate hover stubbornly above the rest and stuck in double digits.

According to today’s report, there are still nearly a million black young adults looking for a job (939,000). To be counted as unemployed in this rate, people have to be actively looking for jobs in the last four weeks. That should inspire action from our policymakers to make postsecondary education and training more affordable and available, and remind us how much more work there is to do to address structural inequalities in our economy.