Home / Economy / Articles / Unemployment rate during COVID-19 highest among Hispanic and Black Americans

The national unemployment rate was 14.7% in April 2020, evidence of the economic toll that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have had on the economy. The downturn has affected the employment of different racial, ethnic, and gender groups differently.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 20.2% of Hispanic or Latino women in the labor force were unemployed in April, more than triple the 6% without jobs in March. The unemployment rate for Hispanic or Latino men jumped from 5.1% in March to 16.7% in April. For Black men, the unemployment rate more than doubled from 7% to 16.1%. The rate rose from 5.2% to 16.4% for Black women.

White, non-Hispanic men also had their unemployment rate triple from 3.7% in March to 12.4% in April, which is the lowest unemployment rate among groups that BLS breaks down by race, ethnicity, and gender.

Unemployment rate by race and ethnicity

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Unemployment rate by race/ethnicity (Men)

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Unemployment rate by race/ethnicity (Women)

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In addition to historically more likely to be unemployed, Hispanic and Black workers were likelier to have worked in some of the worst-hit industries during the pandemic. Hispanic and Black workers respectively represented 17.6% and 12.3% of the total labor force in 2019, but their shares were higher in the retail trade, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services. Those three sectors accounted for 10.9 million of the 20.5 million jobs lost in April.

Demographic makeup and jobs lost in select industries

Black or
or Latino
White Women Asian Jobs lost (March 2020
- April 2020)
Employees (16+)
12.3% 17.6% 77.7% 47% 6.5% -20,537,000
and hospitality
13.1% 24% 74.6% 51.2% 6.9% -7,653,000
and health services
15.1% 13.5% 75.3% 74.8% 6.4% -2,544,000
and business services
10% 16% 77.4% 41.3% 9.6% -2,165,000
12.3% 18.3% 77.6% 47.6% 5.7% -2,106,900
Manufacturing 10.4% 16.8% 79.5% 29.4% 6.8% -1,330,000
Construction 6.4% 30.4% 88.1% 10.3% 1.9% -975,000
and utilities
20.1% 18.8% 71% 24.1% 5.6% -587,400
10.5% 12.9% 79.6% 52.6% 7.5% -262,000

While the unprecedented pandemic affected what types of jobs were lost, when analyzing unemployment data by demographics, it's necessary to couch the data in prior history. As the nation seeks economic recovery and to lower the overall unemployment rate, it's worth watching the degree to which those numbers fall for different groups and if long-standing employment gaps remain.

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey