City Desk

Unemployment In D.C. Is Really Low, If You’re White

An economist at the Economic Policy Institute sends along a chart estimating D.C. unemployment numbers from pre-recession levels until now. As expected, it's pretty bad. For some people, that is. The fourth quarter of last year ended with black unemployment at 20.3 percent—and white unemployment at 3.3 percent. And may even be generous, since the estimates don't capture the people who have given up looking for work.

Of note is how flat white unemployment has remained, while black unemployment skyrocketed. It's a sign that the industries D.C.'s black population tends to work in are much more vulnerable to economic trends, and that, as the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute noted, education remains a pretty strong predictor of employment status.

Nationally, unemployment for blacks is 13.6 percent and 7.4 percent for whites.

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  • Gabe

    I would like to see the numbers of people with college educations. With DC's low high school graduation rate be the answer to the huge gap.

  • RobShaw

    To hell with percentages, give us the head counts. It looks even more disparate.

  • Bloomingdale, DC

    High school is not the problem, because more of us than you think have BA, BS, and Master Degrees. It all comes down to the color of your skin now in Washington, DC. I have applied for over fifty positions in this city (DC) where I was born and still live today. And yes, I am a college educated black. I have watch as my neighborhood's complexion has change and individuals standing now at the bus stops do not look like me. The problem is the District allows companies to move here and conduct business in the city and hire who they please.

  • davidzbowler

    What’s more clear with Employment report is that when it comes to joblessness, having a college degree is more important than ever that is why we need the help of High Speed Universities now

  • James

    RT Gabe

    Totally agree that analysis correlating education level with unemployment would further bolster the need for expediency in education reform. What's sad about elections in DC local politics is that voters who stand the most to gain, stand the most to lose . .. and yet these voters continue to elect losers.

  • EmployedBlkDCMom

    I remember a story this paper did a few years ago titled something like "Where are all the black construction workers?" Ask the question also where are all the black workers at other various jobs around the city that are now occupied by Hispanic people. The unemployment rate Gabe I really don't think has much to do with the high school graduation as it does the movtivation and determination of black people who want to work.

    I was actually told by an unemployed black male who I gave a cigarette to that he felt certain jobs are beneath him, but he'd been unemployed for over four years...smh. Another one told me the job he actually was hired for was too far away, even though it was remotely metro accessible(train then bus). So I see things a different way. Many black people are becoming enabled to stay unemployed by relatives who take care of them and a government system that seems to support the people who are unemployed more than the people who are the working poor.

  • Literacy

    DC is a strange place. It holds records that reflect both ends of the spectrum, yet is a tiny place both geographically and demographically.

    The District holds the highest per capita percentage of any place in the nation for people with college degrees.

    It also holds the record for the highest percentage of functionally illiterate people in the nation, with 36% of the city population being functionally illiterate.

    You can't even get a job flipping burgers at McD's if you are functionally illiterate.

  • Pingback: New report analyzes Give to the Max Day…Do social service agencies hinder economic development?…Unemployment data shows big racial disparities in the District [News, 3.1.12] « Washington Grantmakers Daily

  • Another SE Resident

    @EmployedBlkDCMom, sister you are perpetuating the racist white supremacy myth that Black people don't want to work. Nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, people who want to work move mountains to work--even starting up consulting and small businesses to ensure they stay busy--until something opens up.

    I don't know which two trifling Negores you spoke to who say they don't want to work but that's just stupid talk and you should know better, BlkDCMom with your black DC kids. I don't think you're a black DC mom afterall. You are perpetuating a stereotype that those of us in the know, do know.

    I agree with earlier posters, let's get some hard numbers going. Hate dealing in percentages.

  • Paula

    I took a recent trip to Washington DC and I was truly amazed of how many black professionals I saw. I'm originally from the east coast however my family moved here to Wisconsin years ago. It may be hard for some blacks in Washington DC however Milwaukee WI ranks one of the highest in black unemployment, incarceration of black males, one of the lowest in graduation rates and so forth. In my opinion, I think DC is a liitle bit better for blacks than Wisconsin. Just saying.