Racial disparities extend to unemployment in Ohio

The unemployment rate for all groups in Ohio has fallen in the past few months. But the pain of not having a job is not spread evenly. For Black Ohioans, the unemployment rate in November was 12.1 percent compared to 4 percent for whites, according to data from the Current Population Survey. [1] This means Black Ohioans were more than three times as likely to be unemployed and looking for work than white Ohioans and that gap has been getting wider since the summer.

Almost half of all unemployed Ohioans previously worked in just three industries: construction; food services and drinking places; and retail trade.

It has been widely reported that certain industries have been impacted by public health measures more than others, and unemployment data for Ohio reflects that trend as well. Almost half of all unemployed Ohioans previously worked in just three industries: construction; food services and drinking places; and retail trade. While construction employment falls during the winter months in normal years, last year at this time unemployment for the retail trade was near zero. Racial disparities exist here as well as the unemployment rate in the hardest-hit industries was much higher for Black Ohioans.
Across all races, unemployment goes down as educational attainment goes up, with the unemployment rate for people who completed a graduate degree near zero. But higher education has not shielded Black Ohioans from unemployment. More than 1 of every 10 Black Ohioans with at least a bachelor’s degree were unemployed in November, compared to just 2.3 percent of whites with that level of educational attainment.
The racial disparity in unemployment rate can’t be explained away by looking at industry or educational attainment. The data shows that however you slice it, many Black Ohioans struggled more than their white counterparts as we closed out 2020.

[1] Data was compiled by The Center for Community Solutions using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Microdata Access Tool (MDAT). The Current Population Survey basic monthly data is a different source than the weekly or monthly unemployment statistics that are often reported in the media.