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economic gains made by minorities was disproportionately erased during
the downturn. White Americans have been in a much better economic
situation than minorities during any period, on almost all indicators.
Minorities have not enjoyed equality in work-related benefits obtained
during the period of economic growth prior to 2007. Asian Americans
also saw declining workplace benefits during the recent recession, despite
historically faring much better than other minorities in the labor market.
Paucity of data makes it difficult to measure the specific effects of the
recession on the Asian American community. However, existing data pro-
vide general evidence of the effects of discrimination on minorities across
the American workforce, with mixed findings during the recent eco-
The US Department of Labor (2011) reported data for a period prior
to the economic recession, indicating that:
Between 2001 and 2007 the unemployment rate for whites was 3.7%
in 2001 and 4.2% in March 2007.
The respective rate for Hispanics was 5.8% in 2001 and 6.0% in 2007.
For African Americans it was 8.1% in 2001 and 8.6% in 2007.
For Asian Americans the rate was 3.4% in 2001 and 3.7% in 2007.
Structural differences in unemployment rates by race and ethnicity
persisted through the entire 2001 2007 period and exploded in 2009
( US Department of Labor, 2011 ). The US Department of Labor (DOL)
statistics on unemployment rates constitutes the most widely used gauge
of economic well-being related to the labor market. Starting at the begin-
ning of the recession in 2007, the DOL data revealed the following.
The unemployment rate for African Americans was 8.6% in 2007. By
2009 it had risen 7.2 percentage points to 15.8%.
The rate of increase was essentially the same for Hispanics, with
unemployment rising from 5.8% in 2007 to 12.9% in 2009.
The unemployment rate for white Americans was 9.2% at the end of
2009, up 5 percentage points from December 2007—also more than
Asian Americans saw their unemployment rate rise from 3.7% percent
to 7.7%, increasing twofold during the recession.
The data also revealed that unemployment increased at a faster annual
rate for African Americans and Hispanics than for all other major groups
during the economic downturn. Based upon age, African Americans and
Hispanics experienced much greater unemployment rates than the rest of
the population as described in the following summaries.
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