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Unemployment drops for black Americans and high school grads

December 2, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many black Americans and people with only a high school education found jobs in November, helping reduce their unemployment rates to levels seen before the Great Recession ravaged the U.S. job market.

The jobless rate for black Americans fell to 8.1 percent from 8.6 percent in October, matching a nine-year low set in August. The number of employed black Americans rose, as did their labor force participation rate — the proportion who are either working or actively seeking work.

Despite the improvement, an employment gap by race remains stubbornly wide: The jobless rate for African-Americans is nearly double the 4.2 percent rate for whites.

Workers with just a high school diploma also fared better last month. Their unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest since February 2008.

Recent veterans didn’t do so well. The unemployment rate for veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces anytime since September 2001 jumped to 6.5 percent from 4.7 percent.

All told, U.S. employers added 178,000 jobs in November. The overall unemployment rate fell to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent, though mainly because many people stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed.

That drop appeared to be concentrated among white men, a group that helped form the core of President-elect Donald Trump’s support.

The data for demographic groups came from a survey of households that is part of the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

Unemployment rate by group:
(Numbers in percentages) November 2016 October 2016 November 2015
White 4.2 4.3 4.4
Black 8.1 8.6 9.4
Asian 3.0 3.4 3.9
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity** 5.7 5.7 6.4
Adult men 4.3 4.6 4.7
Adult women 4.2 4.3 4.6
Teenagers 15.2 15.6 15.6
20-24 years old 8.1 8.4 9.6
25-54 years old 4.0 4.2 4.3
55 and over 3.5 3.7 3.7
Veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan* 6.5 4.7 4.2
No high school diploma 7.9 7.3 6.8
High school graduate 4.9 5.5 5.4
Some college 3.9 3.8 4.4
College graduate 2.3 2.6 2.5
Duration of Unemployment:
Average length (weeks) 26.3 27.2 27.9
Jobless 6 months or more (pct.) 24.8 25.2 25.7
*Not seasonally adjusted
**Includes all races
Source: Labor Department
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