Study shows Illinois has the highest black unemployment rate in the U.S.
Nationally, the unemployment rate for black Americans stands at 8.1 percent, which is higher than the national average of all Americans; but Illinois has the highest black unemployment rate in the entire country at 15 percent.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s quarterly regional and state employment and unemployment summary shows that the national unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in June, with little change since the end of the second quarter in March.
According to an analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute of unemployment rates across the country from March to June 2016, 24 states and the District of Columbia saw unemployment rates decline. Valerie Wilson with EPI noted that among those states were Indiana, Michigan and Texas, which have significantly lower black unemployment rates. Texas, at 6.1 percent, had the lowest rate of any state.
Wilson said the highest unemployment rates were accompanied by increased labor force participation, indicating that some of the increase in unemployment could be attributed to discouraged job seekers returning to the workforce.
“Although job growth was fairly widespread across the country during the second quarter of 2016, conditions continued to vary greatly across states and across racial and ethnic groups. In June, state unemployment rates ranged from a high of 6.7 percent in Alaska to a low of 2.7 percent in South Dakota. Nationally, African Americans had the highest unemployment rate in June, at 8.6 percent, followed by Latinos (5.8 percent), whites (4.4 percent) and Asians (3.5 percent),” she wrote.
Illinois not only has the highest African American unemployment rate in the study, but has held that position for three consecutive quarters. The black unemployment rate in Illinois has risen 1.9 percent since the fourth quarter of 2015, despite unemployment increasing 0.7 percentage points nationwide.
The African American unemployment rate was below 10 percent in 17 states for the second quarter of 2016. In 13 of those states, the rate was equal to or lower than the second quarter national average for African Americans at 8.5 percent.
In Illinois, the unemployed rate for Caucasians for the second quarter of 2016 was at 4.8 percent, 7.5 percent for Hispanics and 3.5 percent among Asians. From the fourth quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2016, the Caucasian unemployment rate changed slightly, just 0.4 percent, while the Asian unemployment rate during that time changed 0.1 percent. The Hispanic unemployment rate in that period changed 1.8 percent, but the black unemployment rate grew by 2.7 percent.
According to projections by the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress based on U.S. census data, the majority of Illinois children will be of a minority or mixed race by 2020, making Illinois among the first 18 states to shift from minority-majority by 2020. Analysts of this report note that Illinois has a historic pattern of losing residents to other states, particularly white families seeking more prosperous states with warm climates, like Texas and Florida.
Experts say that if more economic opportunities aren’t created for minorities, their financial dependence upon the state will increase in the coming years, causing additional problems for a cash-strapped state. They blame state leaders for the high unemployment rate among African Americans, citing state leaders overlooking opportunities to stimulate economic growth and enacting regulations that have halted job creation.
Illinois also has more people using food states than any other state in the Midwest, according to 2016 data from the Food Resource and Action Center.