By Donnell Suggs
Black unemployment numbers are looking up, or rather, looking down after rising as high as 16.8% in May 2020 (compared to 14.7% overall unemployment during the same period), early in the pandemic.
The overall employment numbers in Georgia are also doing quite well. In fact the 2.8% unemployment rate (through July) is a historical low for the state.
The country’s overall employment rate of 3.5% is a 53-year low.
An August 24 report titled, “Pandemic shifts in Black employment and wages” projected positive upgrades for Blacks pursuing jobs in several industries. The 2022 labor market can be described as being in the middle of a high labor demand, according to the report. When that happens Blacks are most often likely to reap the benefits of the availability of employment, says Jared Bernstein, a member Council of Economic Advisors to the President. “If you give Black workers the opportunity, which is at the core of Biden-nomics, they will take big time advantage of it,” he said.
The type of work that has become more readily available during the pandemic -transportation, utility sector jobs, and professional and business services- are in abundance in metro Atlanta.
This time of steady raises in salary and job status can’t be looked at through a crystal ball as how things are going to remain going forward, but Bernstein believes the efforts by many, the White House included, are a result of effort. “It’s not just about a historically strong labor market, it’s about a bunch of people working really hard to take advantage of a strong market,” he said.
The recent student low debt relief legislation ($10,000 of debt cancellation for non-Pell Grant recipients and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients) will help to further the stretch of people’s checks.
Again, Black workers will feel a bit of an advantage from the student loan debt cancellation due to the amount of Pell Grant recipients since the student financial aid program was created in 1972. More than 70% of Black student loan borrowers received Pell Grants, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
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