Rising unemployment doesn’t hit all parts of the labor force equally

September 14, 2023

After hovering near five-decade lows of around 3.5% for most of 2023, the unemployment rate ticked up 0.3 percentage point in August to 3.8%, according to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report.

On its own, that rise in unemployment isn’t necessarily alarming. More than 700,000 people joined the labor force in August looking for work, and not all of them found jobs right away. That pushed labor force participation up, which is good, but it also pushed unemployment higher, which is not so good, at least if it keeps going…

Higher unemployment, and people taking longer to find work, would impact some groups more than others.

“There’s a pattern that has repeated itself several times in our most recent economic disruptions,” said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. “People who are young, Black, Hispanic, Native Americans, women, people without a high school degree — these groups are the ones that tend to experience the greatest harm.”

Marketplace.org, September 14, 2023

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