Press Release Inequality Jobs United States

Black Youth: More Likely to Need a Job, Less Likely to Get One

August 03, 2022

Contact: KL Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington — Summertime, but the living is not so easy when you are young, Black, and in search of a job. In a new report released today by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Algernon Austin explains why Black youth should have a higher rate of employment than their white peers. Then he compares that against the reality of joblessness among Black youth. Austin finds that to close the gap between what should be and what is, Black youth need over 500,000 jobs.

Among the reasons why Black youth should have a higher rate of employment than white youth are because they are less likely to be in school, more likely to have children to support, and more likely to have financial hardships. 

To measure the gap between what should be and what is, Austin looks beyond the popular unemployment rate, which dramatically undercounts joblessness for Black youth. A better measure for Black workers is the employment rate — the share of the group that is working. To close the white-Black youth employment rate gap requires 540,000 jobs. 

Racial discrimination in the labor market is an important factor keeping the employment rates of Black youth lower than their white counterparts. Austin looks to the success of subsidized jobs programs, like the depression-era Works Progress Administration. Such jobs programs that target communities experiencing high levels of joblessness can help offset racial discrimination and provide employment for Black youth.

“With bold and smart investments, we can reduce joblessness for Black youth. Subsidized jobs programs can reduce social service expenditures and spur economic development which ultimately benefits everyone,” said Austin.

Support Cepr

If you value CEPR's work, support us by making a financial contribution.