Joblessness soars for African-Americans in DC: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economic recession was especially devastating to the job prospects and incomes of African-American residents of Washington, D.C., according to a new report on the majority black city’s labor market.

Overall, unemployment levels pushed to record highs in the nation’s capital during the longest and deepest recession since the end of World War Two, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute said in the report released on Wednesday.

Employment levels, or the share of the population with a job are “at or close to the lowest levels in 30 years,” the report said.

The jobless rate for Latino residents increased at the fastest rate during the recession, nearly doubling in a year to 8.4 percent at end 2009. But the unemployment rate for African American residents was the highest at 15.6 percent.

According to the U.S. Census, 54.4 percent of the city’s residents are Black or African-American. The group represents 12.3 percent of the U.S. population.

The report also found that those who do not receive schooling beyond high school struggle the most in Washington.

The unemployment rate among residents with a high school education was 19 percent in 2009, “far higher than at any point in the last 30 years and almost as high as unemployment among residents without a high-school diploma -- 20.3 percent,” according to the report.

The median wage for residents with a high school diploma was about $14 per hour, while the median wage for college-educated residents was $30 per hour in 2009, the institute, a local think tank, said.

Still, the report warned that the chasm between those with less than a four-year college education and those with more has existed for quite some time.

“For years, the DC labor market has been further and further out of reach for all but the most-educated residents,” said Ed Lazere, executive director of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, in a statement.

Recently, the U.S. Census found that Washington had the greatest income disparity in the country. The institute showed the immensity of that gap. The wages for the top fifth of workers in 2009 was $38.95 per hour, or more than three times the wage for the bottom fifth, who earn $12.36 per hour.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Andrew Hay