Black Unemployment Down, But Not Enough, Obama Administration Says

Dorothy Rowley | 7/15/2014, 12:08 p.m.
Courtesy Photo

The Department of Labor reported a significant dip in unemployment among blacks, but the rate is still unconscionably high, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said.

The black unemployment rate for June 2014 hovered at 10.7 percent, compared to 13.5 percent for this time last year, according to the department.

Perez said the decrease is a good sign, but far too high for those still struggling to find work.

"And that is why the president has been so focused on [the issue]. It would really help African-Americans and people in the Latino communities [to] see unemployment well above the national average," he said, alluding to the effectiveness of initiatives such as "My Brother's Keeper," which was launched in February by the Obama administration to expand job and educational opportunities for young men of color.

Four years ago, black joblessness peaked at 16.8 percent — the highest during the recent recession. Perez blamed Congress, saying Capitol Hill has done little since to help blacks find jobs, while refusing to extend emergency unemployment benefits for nearly 3 million people.

"Even as the economy continues its steady recovery, there's plenty of work still to do to empower the middle class and create opportunity for everyone willing to work hard and take responsibility," Perez said. "Too many people, despite their best efforts, are still struggling to make ends meet, finding the American Dream beyond their grasp."