Fragile job gains for Black workers at stake in inflation fight – Lincoln Journal Star

by | May 25, 2022 | Financial

MATTHEW BOESLER, JONNELLE MARTE, CATARINA SARAIVA
Bloomberg News
For Black Americans, job prospects have improved since 2020. That’s the good news.The bad news is that the gains eked out since the murder of George Floyd two years ago appear as fragile as ever. Indeed, inflation is threatening to upend progress in the labor market as policymakers respond to a backlash against rising prices.While the uprisings that drew thousands into the streets in 2020 helped put disadvantages of Black workers in the spotlight, most experts instead point to government aid and the tight U.S. labor market during the pandemic as driving the collective advances for them and other groups.One key measure tracked by economists shows that employment of Black Americans of “prime working age” — 25 to 54 — jumped to 77.4% in April, the highest in 22 years. While that’s still well below the equivalent measure for White Americans, the uptick has reduced the gap between the two figures to the narrowest on record, in data stretching back to 1994.It’s a sign that the hottest job market in generations is making it “more costly for firms to discriminate against African-American job applicants,” according to Algernon Austin, the director for race and economic justice at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

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