Press Release Black Unemployment Economic Crisis and Recovery Jobs United States Women Workers

Survey Elevates Black Women’s Perspectives on Joblessness for Black Men

February 22, 2023

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460Mail_Outline

Addressing disproportionate joblessness for Black men will improve outcomes for Black women and the community at large. 

Washington, DC — Black women understand and are affected by the high rate of joblessness that Black men face in the US. And though approximately a million more Black women than Black men have been employed each year over the past two decades, both groups and the broader Black community are hindered by labor market inequities. In a new report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s (CEPR’s) Algernon Austin explores Black women’s perspectives on the crucial problem of joblessness among Black men, as well as the causes and consequences.

In “Black Women’s Views on Black Men’s High Rate of Joblessness,” Austin first estimates the number of employed Black men per 100 employed Black women, a ratio that is unique compared to all other major racial groups. On average, there are 87 Black men with jobs for every 100 Black women with jobs; in contrast, the Latino community shows 143 Latino men for every 100 Latino women. A key driver of this disparity is the Black male employment rate, which is disproportionately low compared to men in other groups — as explored in the earlier CEPR report, “The Jobs Crisis for Black Men is a Lot Worse Than You Think.”

Next, Austin discusses findings from a YouGov survey of 500 Black women that was commissioned by CEPR to capture Black women’s views on the high rate of Black male joblessness. Notably, Black women are deeply concerned about this problem and the ways that it affects the Black community. Key findings include:

  • On the societal problem of Black male joblessness, Black women are extremely concerned (45 percent) and very concerned (35 percent).
  • When it comes to their sons, nearly half (46 percent) of Black mothers are extremely (34 percent) or moderately (12 percent) worried about their sons’ ability to find and keep a job.
  • Two-thirds of Black women strongly agree (41 percent) or agree (25 percent) that “Black communities would have less crime if more Black men had jobs.”  

The survey also shows that Black women understand the systemic factors at play. “Black women are aware that although the official national unemployment rate is low, the Black unemployment rate is still high,” writes Austin. Black women also recognize that official employment statistics “do not include the roughly 365,000 Black men serving sentences in state and federal prisons” and express worry regarding their employment opportunities upon release. Overall, Black women strongly agree (55 percent) or agree (29 percent) that “there need to be more jobs in Black communities available to Black people.”

The author elaborates on the causes and consequences of this structural inequity, noting the economic and emotional burdens that this issue creates for Black women in particular, as well as for the broader community. “The high rate of joblessness for Black men means that there is more poverty among Black families, in Black neighborhoods, and in Black communities. This joblessness collectively costs Black communities over $30 billion a year.”

Overall, improving employment rates for Black men would greatly benefit Black women and the Black community. Addressing the uniquely low employment rate of Black men is a necessity; creating an economy of full employment would mitigate this problem and improve economic wellbeing for all people.


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