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PolitiFact: Facts back up the claim of rising black joblessness

The statement

"The black unemployment rate (has) increased since the recovery has begun."

Marc Morial, National Urban League president, in an interview on NBC's Meet the Press

The ruling

We looked at federal Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers starting in June 2009 — the month the National Bureau of Economic Research determined was the end of the last recession and the start of the recovery.

In June 2009, the unemployment rate for African-Americans was 14.9 percent. In the most recent month, June 2011, the rate was 16.2. So the black unemployment rate definitely did rise over that period.

If you look closer at the numbers, they have actually zig-zagged a bit. The rate peaked at 16.5 percent in March and April 2010, before falling as low as 15.3 percent in February 2011. Since then, the rate has climbed almost a full percentage point over four months.

Still, in the period Morial specified, the black unemployment rate increased by more than a full percentage point.

We should note that Morial has some justification for focusing on black unemployment rates.

Of the four major ethnic groups tracked by BLS — whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans — only blacks saw unemployment rise over the period Morial cited.

White unemployment dropped from 8.7 percent to 8.1 percent from June 2009 to June 2011. Hispanic unemployment dropped from 12.2 percent to 11.6 percent. And Asian unemployment dropped from 8.2 percent to 6.8 percent. All told, the overall unemployment rate fell from 9.5 percent to 9.2 percent.

In fact, some segments of the black labor force showed even higher rates of unemployment. For instance, the most recent unemployment rate for blacks between the ages of 16 and 24 years was 31.4 percent.

We find nothing amiss in Morial's claim that "the black unemployment rate (has) increased since the recovery has begun." So we rate his statement True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For the full version, go to

PolitiFact: Facts back up the claim of rising black joblessness 07/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 9:14pm]
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