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Study Examines Unemployment Rates by Color and Ethnicity

June 30, 2010

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - As unemployment continues to be a strain on Americans, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows the pain is greater for many Black and Hispanic families. Their unemployment rates have been higher than the rate for Caucasians in several large metropolitan areas, with one of the sharpest divides found in Memphis.

Emily Eisenhauer, a researcher with EPI, says this information should be kept in mind when designing economic recovery programs, if they are to be successful.

"It's important that when we think about job creation programs and investments like the stimulus, for example, we need to make sure those programs are targeted to the people who are hardest hit."

Eisenhauer says workforce education and job development also should focus on careers that are well-suited to weathering economic downturns, such as technology, government and education.

"We should make sure people have opportunities to enter different industries and occupations where they are not so vulnerable. "

In 2009, the average national annual unemployment rate was 9.3 percent. In several large metro areas, the report found the rate was up to one-and-a-half times higher for blacks and Hispanics. In Memphis, the rate was nearly double for minorities.

The report, "Uneven Pain - Unemployment by Metropolitan Area and Race," is available at www.epi.org.

James Hudson, Public News Service - TN