African American workers’ jobless rate in 2011 hovered between 9.7 percent and 22.6 percent in 19 major metropolitan areas, according to new data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Overall, the black unemployment rate was two to three times as high as that of whites. EPI also found that the 2011 unemployment rate among Latino workers was higher than 10 percent in 17 of 25 metro areas.
Fifteen of the 19 metropolitan areas EPI examined had black unemployment rates below 20 percent but above 10 percent in 2011. Of these 15 areas, Chicago and Detroit had the highest African American unemployment rates, at 19.1 percent and 18.1 percent, respectively.
Metro areas in or including parts of Virginia—Virginia Beach, Richmond and Washington, D.C.—had the lowest black unemployment rates. However, at around 10 percent, these areas still had high rates of black unemployment.
Latino workers experienced the highest unemployment rate--23.3 percent--in the Providence area, where it was significantly higher than the rates of Orlando, Fla. (16.6 percent), Riverside, Calif., (15.4 percent) and Las Vegas (14.7 percent). Like African American workers, Latino workers experienced the lowest unemployment rate in the Washington, D.C., area.
As EPI concludes:
America’s metropolitan areas need more economic stimulus programs, particularly infrastructure investments and aid to state and local governments. There is broad agreement among economists that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act worked; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the act created more than 3 million jobs. While the Obama administration has proposed providing more aid to state and local governments, conservatives in Congress have blocked such efforts. The time to act is now.