African-American Unemployment Rates Struggling to Reach Pre-Recession Numbers in Virginia

Jul 31, 2018

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Black unemployment may be at a record low now in the United States. But the numbers here in Virginia tell a different story.

White unemployment in Virginia is now down to pre-recession levels. But African-Americans in Virginia are still struggling to get back to unemployment levels that preceded the financial crash a decade ago.

Laura Goren at the Commonwealth Institute says black workers in Virginia continue to face a number of barriers to employment.

“That includes the collateral consequences of incarceration when we know that black communities are more heavily policed than other communities.”

The black unemployment rate is twice the white unemployment rate in Virginia. And the percent of blacks in Virginia with a college degree is about half that of white Virginians.

Hamilton Lombard at the University of Virginia says education plays a significant role in explaining these numbers.

“When you go in parts of Virginia where the black population has a higher educational attainment rate than the white population, Roanoke County and Stafford County, the typical black family there makes more money than the typical white family. So it definitely correlates.”

Black unemployment in Virginia peaked at more than 11% in 2011, and it’s been going down since then. But it’s still about 2% higher than it was before the recession.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.