MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina has fourth highest African American unemployment rate in nation


RALEIGH (May 20, 2013) — North Carolina may have seen improvement in the state’s overall unemployment rate over the past few months, but minority workers are continuing to lag behind, according to a new brief from the Economic Policy Institute. Specifically, the Tarheel State has the fourth highest African American unemployment rate in the nation and has suffered disproportionately from job losses and budget cuts during and after the Great Recession

Despite seeing the state’s overall unemployment rate drop below 9 percent for the first time since 2009, North Carolina’s job gains are not being evenly distributed across segments of the workforce — and minorities are being disproportionately left behind. In Ongoing Joblessness in North Carolina: Unemployment rate for African Americans fourth in nation, more than double the state’s white rate, EPI researchers Douglas Hall and Mary Gable make the following disturbing findings:  

  • African American unemployment rate in North Carolina was 17.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, more than two-and-a-half times that of the white unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. 
  • Though the state’s Hispanic unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is not nearly as high as the African American unemployment rate, it is still higher than the white unemployment rate. 
  • Federal and state budget cuts have exacerbated the effects of the recession and disproportionately affected African American and Hispanic workers in the state. Because African Americans have historically been overrepresented in public-sector employment, state and local public-sector job losses have hit them the hardest. 
  • The long-term decline in manufacturing in North Carolina, which has the second highest rate of manufacturing job loss since 1995 among all states, has dealt a serious blow to workers — white, black and Hispanic — statewide. 

“As the state’s overall unemployment rate continues to slowly improve, we need to make sure that all our workers experience the benefits of job creation and economic growth," said Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “African American unemployment is unacceptably high, and state budget cuts have only made the problem worse.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer,, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw,, 503.551.3615 (cell).