Report: Highest Unemployment for Hispanics is in RI at 20.3%, Blacks in Nevada at 16.8%

By Penny Starr | November 7, 2014 | 3:36pm EST

(AP Photo)

( -- A new report released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) using state unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that while the national unemployment rate was down to 5.9 percent in September – the lowest it’s been since July 2008  – the rates differ widely across states and across racial and ethnic groups measured over the third quarter of 2014.

Valerie Wilson, EPI director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, found high rates of unemployment among minorities in many states, including 20.3 percent for Hispanics in Rhode Island and 16.8 percent for African Americans living in Nevada.

(The national unemployment rate for blacks, ages 16 and over, was 11 percent in September --10.9 percent in October; for Hispanics or Latino, 6.9 percent in September -- 6.8 percent in October.)

“People are experiencing the recovery much differently based on their race and their location, and for far too many people, particularly people of color, the recovery has yet to occur,” Wilson said in a press release announcing the Oct. 27 release of the report. “Until the recovery reaches these families, policymakers should use every available tool to put more people back to work.”

(AP Photo)

Through the third quarter, the end of September 2014, the unemployment rate was lowest for Hispanics in the District of Columbia at 3.0 percent and the lowest for African Americans in Virginia at 8.2 percent, according to EPI.

The white unemployment rate was the lowest in North Dakota at 1.9 percent and highest in Nevada at 7.2 percent. (The national unemployment rate at the end of September was 5.9 percent.)

The unemployment rate among Asians was highest in California (5.9 percent) and lowest in Washington state (2.5 percent).

Across the country in September, state unemployment rates ranged from a high of 7.9 percent in Georgia to a low of 2.8 percent in North Dakota. Nationally, African Americans had the highest unemployment rate, at 11.0 percent in September, followed by Latinos (6.9 percent), whites (5.1 percent), and Asians (4.3 percent, not seasonally adjusted).

The national unemployment rate fell another tenth of one percent in October to 5.8 percent, the federal government announced on Friday.

The EPI explains the methodology used for the report as follows: “The unemployment rate estimates in this issue brief are based on the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(AP Photo)

“The overall state unemployment rate is taken directly from the LAUS,” says the EPI. “CPS six-month ratios are applied to LAUS data to calculate the rates by race and ethnicity. For each state subgroup, we calculate the unemployment rate using the past six months of CPS data.”

“We then find the ratio of this subgroup rate to the state unemployment rate using the same period of CPS data. This gives us an estimate of how the subgroup compares to the state overall,” said the EPI.

“While this methodology allows us to calculate unemployment-rate estimates at the state level by race by quarter, it is less precise at the national level than simply using the CPS. Thus, the national-level estimates may differ from direct CPS estimates,” said the Economic Policy Institute.

In many states, the sample size of these subgroups is not large enough to create an accurate estimate of their unemployment rate.

“We only report data for groups which had, on average, a sample size of at least 700 in the labor force for each six-month period,” said the Economic Policy Institute.

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