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Monday, January 16, 2006

Black and White Unemployment Over Time

Here are monthly unemployment rates for whites and blacks since 1972. The green line is the gap between the two rates to see if there has been any systematic changes over time. The shaded areas are NBER dated recessions:

Here is the rate for men only:

For women only:

And for teens:

Some observations:

  1. The rate is always higher for blacks than for whites.
  2. In most, but not all, cases the gap between whites and blacks is larger than the rate for whites.
  3. There does appear to be a long-run decline in the gap since the early 1980s, but recently the decline has been reversed.
  4. The gap follows the trend. When unemployment rises, for example, the gap rises indicating that the black unemployment rate rises faster than the white rate during recessions. This will also mean that the black rate will fall faster in recoveries. [Update: graph of black to white ratio: smaller, larger]
  5. There is a clear difference in volatility. The series for whites is much smoother than the series for lacks.

A more general observation: In the first graph, notice how the unemployment rate stops rising at the end of the recessions in the early 1970s and 1980s, but the recession in the early 1990s is different. Even after the recession ended, unemployment continued rising, than begins a long-term decline. In the most recent recession, unemployment continued rising after it officially ended as well. This is even more evident in the rates for men in the second graph, black men in particular.

Update: I was asked about participation statistics. These are in the continuation frame.

First, the overall rates for blacks and whites:

Here is the rate for men only:

For women only:

And for teens:

And here are the gaps. The only gap that is positive (black-white) is for women:

This is the black to white ratio:

    Posted by on Monday, January 16, 2006 at 12:15 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Unemployment | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (17)


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