September 05, 2012
Non-Hispanic Whites made up about two-thirds of the U.S. labor force in 2011. About 15 percent of the labor force in 2011 was Hispanic or Latino. Non-Hispanic Blacks made up 11 percent of the labor force, and non-Hispanic Asians accounted for 5 percent. American Indians and Alaska Natives composed about 1 percent of the labor force, as did persons of two or more races. Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders made up less than 1 percent.
In 2011, the unemployment rate for the United States averaged 8.9 percent but varied among racial and ethnic groups. The rates were highest for non-Hispanic Blacks (15.9 percent) and for American Indians and Alaska Natives (14.6 percent). Unemployment rates were lowest for non-Hispanic Asians (7.0 percent) and non-Hispanic Whites (7.2. percent). The jobless rate was 13.6 percent for persons of two or more races, 11.5 percent for Hispanics or Latinos, and 10.4 percent for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.
Differences among racial and ethnic groups in unemployment rates reflect a variety of factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include variations across the groups in educational attainment; the occupations and industries in which the groups work; the geographic areas of the country in which the groups are concentrated; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.
These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see "Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, 2011" (PDF), Report 1036, August 2012. The percentages shown in the first chart sum to slightly more than 100 percent because a small number of Hispanics or Latinos are counted twice, once in the "Hispanic or Latino" category and again in the categories "American Indian and Alaska Native," "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander," or "Two or more races."