The Black unemployment rate hit a record low of 5% last month, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The news comes three years after the rate spiked to nearly 17% during the early months of the pandemic.
Many economists anticipate the labor market to begin cooling.
Brenda Palms, president and CEO of the North Lawndale Employment Network, said that while these new numbers are interesting, it’s not necessarily reflected in the job markets she works with, primarily in North Lawndale, where there’s a “constant concern” about the reduction of the unemployment rate.
Some of the barriers to stable employment are a hesitancy for employers to hire someone with a criminal record or someone with a disability, Palms said.
She’s hoping that Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson’s administration will understand that it’s time to come up with more inclusive hiring policies. That could look like reconsidering whether a degree needs to be required or working with people with criminal records, she added.
Those jobs need to be sustainable, said Alonzo Waheed, director of organizing with Equity and Transformation. He pointed to the hire rates for Black and Latino workers in the service industry and gig economy as a concern due to lower pay and the instability of the work.
“We have to come up with real alternative solutions to make sure that we’re all able to have a good quality of life here,” Waheed said.