NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Blacks, College Grads Feel Economy's Pinch

April 9, 2001

If unemployment rises, as it tends to do in an economic downturn, the trend might first be noticed among potential new workers -- such as recent graduates entering the workforce -- and those segments of the population more likely to be unemployed. Recent unemployment figures suggest this the case, as there are fewer job opportunities now than there have been in recent years.

  • Black unemployment -- which fell to historic lows last year -- shot up to 8.6 percent in March from 7.5 percent in February, according to the April 6 Labor Department report.
  • While month-to-month figures have been highly volatile, figures in three-month increments clearly substantiate the trend -- with black unemployment climbing from 7.5 percent in the final three months of last year to 8.2 percent in the first three months of 2001.
  • A fall 2000 survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers showed most companies intending to continue hiring college grads at a brisk pace.
  • But last month's survey revealed that about 50 percent of companies were lowering their projections.

Last year a number of companies offered attractive benefits to compete for grads; this year they're suspending the offers. Personnel experts say this year's graduates are finding they must make a case for themselves and sell prospective employers on their talents.

Sources: George Hager, "More Black Workers Face Joblessness;" and Stephanie Armour, "Job Market Gets Tougher for College Grads;" both in USA Today, April 9, 2001.

For text

For Bureau of Labor Statistics March Employment Report


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