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Indicator 26: Unemployment
(Last Updated: July 2017)

In 2014, among adults ages 25 to 64, higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native adults (both 11 percent) than of Hispanic (7 percent), White (5 percent), and Asian (5 percent) adults were unemployed.

The unemployment rate, a gauge of the strength of the labor market, is the percentage of persons in the civilian labor force who are not working and who made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the prior 4 weeks. People who have no job and are not looking for one (such as those who are going to school, who have retired, or who have a physical or mental disability that prevents them from participating in the labor force) are not included in the labor force and are not considered unemployed. This indicator examines the differences in the unemployment rate by race/ethnicity, age group, and level of educational attainment.


Figure 26.1. Unemployment rates of persons 16 to 64 years old, by selected age group and race/ethnicity: 2014

Figure 26.1. Unemployment rates of persons 16 to 64 years old, by selected age group and race/ethnicity: 2014


NOTE: The unemployment rate is the percentage of persons in the civilian labor force who are not working and who made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the prior 4 weeks. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Totals include racial/ethnic groups not separately shown as well as respondents who wrote in some other race that was not included as an option on the questionnaire and therefore could not be placed into any of the other groups.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014, unpublished tabulations. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, tables 501.10 and 501.20.


In 2014, some 26 percent of youth ages 16 to 19 were unemployed, as were 14 percent of young adults ages 20 to 24, and 6 percent of adults ages 25 to 64. This pattern of youth ages 16 to 19 and young adults ages 20 to 24 having higher unemployment rates than adults ages 25 to 64 was observed across racial/ethnic groups in 2014. Within each age group, there were differences in unemployment rates among racial/ethnic groups. Among youth ages 16 to 19, a higher percentage of Black youth (39 percent) than of Asian (25 percent), Hispanic (24 percent), and White (22 percent) youth were unemployed. Among young adults ages 20 to 24, higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native young adults (25 percent and 24 percent, respectively) than of Hispanic (13 percent), White (11 percent), and Asian (10 percent) young adults were unemployed. Similarly, among adults ages 25 to 64, higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native adults (both 11 percent) than of Hispanic (7 percent), White (5 percent), and Asian (5 percent) adults were unemployed.


Figure 26.2. Unemployment rates of persons 25 to 64 years old, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2014

Figure 26.2. Unemployment rates of persons 25 to 64 years old, by race/ethnicity and educational attainment: 2014


NOTE: The unemployment rate is the percentage of persons in the civilian labor force who are not working and who made specific efforts to find employment sometime during the prior 4 weeks. High school completion includes those with equivalency credentials, such as the GED credential. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Totals include racial/ethnic groups not separately shown as well as respondents who wrote in some other race that was not included as an option on the questionnaire and therefore could not be placed into any of the other groups. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, American Community Survey (ACS), 2014, unpublished tabulations. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, table 501.10.


While the overall unemployment rate in 2014 for adults ages 25 to 64 was 6 percent, it was 11 percent for those who had not completed high school, compared with 3 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. This pattern of lower unemployment rates being associated with higher levels of education was evident across all racial/ethnic groups. For example, the unemployment rate for Black adults who had not completed high school was 22 percent, compared with 13 percent for those who had completed high school and 5 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree. The unemployment rate for American Indian/Alaska Native adults who had not completed high school was 22 percent, compared with 13 percent for those who had completed high school and 4 percent for those with a bachelor's or higher degree.

Differences in unemployment rates for adults ages 25 to 64 were also found between racial/ethnic groups within each level of educational attainment in 2014. Among those who had not completed high school, higher percentages of Black and American/Indian Alaska Native adults (both 22 percent) than of White adults (13 percent) were unemployed, and a higher percentage of White adults than of Hispanic (8 percent) and Asian (7 percent) adults were unemployed. Among adults who had completed high school, higher percentages of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native adults (both 13 percent) than of Hispanic (7 percent), White (7 percent), and Asian (7 percent) adults were unemployed. Among adults with a bachelor's or higher degree, higher percentages of Black and Hispanic adults (both 5 percent) than of Asian (4 percent) and White adults (3 percent) were unemployed. Additionally, a higher percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native (4 percent) than of White adults were unemployed.

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