(The Washington Post) There's a lot of blurring that happens with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly jobs report, the splashy release that drives headlines about the unemployment rate and (recently at least) the gains in the job market. One example is that the figures are seasonally adjusted, to offer a comprehensible baseline month-over-month instead of always having to explain that employment always spikes in June and at the end of the year.
It's blurry in a more important way, too. Reporting that unemployment in January was at 5.7 percent (a tick upward from December's figure) tells us a lot about the economy. But the unemployment varies by demographic, which tells us a lot about the economy, too.
Since the government started tracking unemployment data by race, the unemployment rate for black Americans has never been lower than that of white Americans. In fact, it has never been less than 66 percent higher -- i.e. it's never been close. In the newest jobs report, blacks are the only demographic group besides teenagers with an unemployment rate over 10 percent.
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