Bureau of Labor Statistics

Unemployment rate and employment-population ratio vary by race and ethnicity

January 13, 2017

Labor market outcomes in the United States vary considerably across race and ethnicity groups. In 2016, for example, the overall civilian unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, while the rates for the major race and ethnicity groups ranged from 3.6 percent for Asians to 8.4 percent for Blacks or African Americans; the rate for Whites was 4.3 percent in 2016, and the rate for Hispanics or Latinos was 5.8 percent.

View Chart Data

Unemployment rate and employment–population ratio by major race and ethnicity groups, 2016 annual averages
Race or ethnicity group Unemployment rate Employment–population ratio


4.9% 59.7%

Black or African American

8.4 56.4

Hispanic or Latino

5.8 62.0


4.3 60.2


3.6 60.9

Similarly, the employment–population ratio (that is, the proportion of the population that is employed) for all race and ethnicity groups combined was 59.7 percent in 2016, while the ratio ranged from 56.4 percent for Blacks or African Americans to 62.0 percent for Hispanics and Latinos. The employment–population ratio was 60.2 percent for Whites and 60.9 percent for Asians in 2016.

These data are annual averages from the Current Population Survey. Labor market differences among the race and ethnicity groups are associated with many 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, including whether they tend to reside in urban or rural settings; and the degree of discrimination encountered in the workplace.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unemployment rate and employment-population ratio vary by race and ethnicity at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/unemployment-rate-and-employment-population-ratio-vary-by-race-and-ethnicity.htm (visited September 18, 2021).


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