Hard-hit African-Americans and the most-educated Americans enjoyed the most improved job prospects in the 12 months ending in January.
Among racial groups, whites, Hispanics and Asians benefited, too. But African-Americans, who lag far behind the others, made the biggest gains.
For workers without a high school diploma, seasonally adjusted unemployment slid from 19.9 percent to 18.3 percent over the past 12 months. Among high school graduates with no college experience, the rate fell from 12.4 percent to 11 percent.
Unemployment among those with a college degree— an associate’s, a bachelor’s or more — did tick down, just not as much. The rate for those with a bachelor’s degree or beyond declined from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent. Five years ago, their rate was just 1.8 percent.
But the employment picture is improving more for those with a college degree. That’s because many Americans without a degree are dropping out of the workforce and aren’t counted as unemployed.
Among whites, unemployment declined from 8.1 percent to 7.4 percent. Asians reported the lowest unemployment rate among the four identified racial groups: It slid from 6.9 percent to 6.7 percent. (Unlike for other racial categories, unemployment for Asians, a smaller group, isn’t adjusted for seasonal factors.)
The rate for Hispanics and African-Americans fell sharply among the racial groups. Hispanic unemployment dropped from 12.9 percent to 11 percent. But that’s because a disproportionate number of Hispanics have stopped looking for work and so aren’t counted as unemployed. Immigration has also declined sharply. That means there are fewer foreign-born job-seekers.
Unemployment among African-Americans declined sharply, from 15.7 percent to 13.6 percent over the past year. That’s a big change from 2011, when African-American unemployment was stubbornly high and mostly unchanged throughout the year. Young black men with at least a high school diploma enjoyed the biggest gains.
In January, updated Census Bureau data increased the civilian population by more than 1.5 million. The revised population pool showed that there were more retirees and people between ages 16 and 24 than previously estimated.