Black and Hispanic employment rates fell furthest during the pandemic and still lag other groups

Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)

October 12, 2021
Black and Hispanic employment rates fell furthest during the pandemic and still lag other groups

In the early part of the pandemic, when efforts to curb the spread of the virus shut down large sections of the US economy, employment fell sharply across the board. While declines were similar for prime-age (25–54) men and women, Black and Hispanic workers experienced particularly severe declines in the second quarter of 2020, falling up to 11.0 and 12.1 percentage points, respectively.

The gap between Black and Hispanic employment and other groups has since narrowed. In the second quarter of 2020, the decline in the share of the prime-age Black population employed was 3.1 percentage points larger than the decline for the white population. For Hispanic workers, the decline was 4.1 percentage points larger. In the third quarter of 2021, both groups were still experiencing larger declines than their white counterparts, but the gap had narrowed to 1.8 percentage points for Black workers and 1.2 percentage points for Hispanic workers. Meanwhile Asian workers have had the fastest recovery, with the share of working-age Asians employed now just 0.5 percentage point below its pre-pandemic level.

This PIIE Chart is based on research in Jason Furman and Wilson Powell III's blog, September job growth was worse than expected but better than it looked.

More From

Jason Furman Senior Research Staff
Wilson Powell III Former Research Staff

More on This Topic

RealTime Economic Issues Watch

Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)

October 8, 2021
RealTime Economic Issues Watch

Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)

September 3, 2021
RealTime Economic Issues Watch

Jason Furman (PIIE) and Wilson Powell III (Harvard Kennedy School)

August 6, 2021