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Report Finds African-American Unemployment in Michigan Among Nation's Highest

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015   

LANSING, Mich. - While there are signs Michigan's job market is improving, a new report finds unemployment among African-Americans remains at crisis levels.

The state's overall jobless rate fell below six percent last month, and is now at its lowest point in 14 years. But according to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for African-Americans in Michigan is 15.8 percent.

Karla Swift, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, says it will take a concerted effort from Lansing and Washington to change those numbers.

"We need to implement targeted policies to ensure everyone in Michigan who is willing and able to work has a job," she says.

According to the data, Michigan's black unemployment rate is more than twice as high as the highest white unemployment rate in the nation, which is seven percent in Nevada. Michigan's rate is also significantly higher than the national black unemployment rate of 11 percent. Only Wisconsin and Nevada have higher African-American unemployment rates than Michigan.

Swift says she hopes the report will serve as a red flag for lawmakers, and hopes they will look to best practices from other states.

"We should pass a 'Fair Chance for Employment' law that makes it illegal to discriminate against unemployed workers in the hiring process," she says. "And we should have strong community benefits agreements to ensure local workers are hired to modernize our infrastructure. "

The report also found that African-American unemployment has declined in 15 states, and has returned to pre-recession rates in two states, Connecticut and South Carolina.


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