According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of unemployed Black women increased last year. While this may seem like another report about the lack of opportunities available to Black women, there is a caveat. Although reports concluded that the unemployment rates had decreased across the board, rates for Black women increased. For most U.S. workers, the unemployment rate fell from 3.7% to 3.5%. The rate for Black women on the other hand, increased from 5.2% to 5.5%.

According to reports, Latino men and women also sawan unemployment uptick. Latino men showed an unemployment rate of 4%, while Latino women had a rate of 3.7%.

Insight On The Number Scale

In a conversation with CNBC, Michelle Holder, a distinguished senior fellow at Washington Center for Equitable Growth shared some insight on the numbers.

“What we’ve really seen over the course of the last nearly three years since the pandemic hit, is that we’ve regained, in terms of aggregate numbers, all of the jobs lost,” said Holder. “But the sort of industrial mix has changed, and has kind of impacted what we’re seeing with regard to the distribution of joblessness, by gender, race and ethnicity. And it’s really disaffecting Black women and Latinx men,” Holder stated.

Photo by: Christina Morillo

Struggling Industries

According to CNBC, industries that had an overrepresentation of Black women showed little improvement from the effects of the pandemic. This is what has impacted the unemployment rate for Black women.

According to Holder, the leisure and hospitality industries are two sectors that saw a rise in jobs at the end of last year. But still, they remain below pre-pandemic levels. While employment rose in the sector, it is still 5.5%, below what it was before February 2020.

“Those are two industries that have not recovered well during the pandemic,” Holder said. “This is what is constraining Black women’s ability to get back to the state that they were with regard to the American workforce before the pandemic.”

Cause And Effect

According to a 2021 report by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, leisure and hospitality industries were gravely affected by the pandemic. According to the report, these two groups were vulnerable to a decline in business. Especially because they involved people socializing in close gatherings, which became impractical because of the pandemic. Because leisure and hospitality industries, especially hotels, are closely associated with travel, this contributed to the economic plummet of the two sectors. This is because the rate of travel plummeted at the height of the pandemic, due to fears of COVID-19 transmission. According to Brookings, international tourist arrivals declined globally by 73% in 2020.

Although the rates for 9-5 employment look bleak for Black women, they continue to persevere on the entrepreneurial front. According to the Harvard Business Review, in the United States, 17% of Black women are in the process of starting or running new businesses. In comparison, just 10% of white women, and 15% of white men are doing the same. While Black women face significant challenges in entrepreneurship, many are still leaving corporate America to become self-employed.