Indicator Update: Unemployment Data Now Disaggregated by Both Gender and Race

21 Jan 2016 | Abigail Langston
Indicator Update: Unemployment Data Now Disaggregated by Both Gender and Race
Above: Unemployment rate by race/ethnicity: United States, 1980-2012

The National Equity Atlas includes historical data on unemployment at the national, state, regional, and city levels. We have recently updated this indicator to provide more detailed information on unemployment by gender as well as race/ethnicity; here’s an overview of the unemployment data available in the Atlas and how you can use it.

What it measures

The unemployment rate reported in the Atlas is calculated as the number of people ages 25–64 who are out of work divided by the number who are in the labor force, defined as working or actively seeking employment (over the last four weeks). No data is reported for demographic subgroups with insufficient sample sizes.

Atlas users can compare unemployment by gender both within and between racial groups, and track trends over time, with data going back to 1990.

What it shows

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the unemployment gender gap (the difference between female and male unemployment rates) “virtually disappeared after 1980–except during recessions, when men’s unemployment rates always exceed women’s.” This is reflected in the data for the United States presented in the Atlas with the overall gender gap near zero in both 1990 and 2000, but with men’s unemployment rates exceeding women’s by 0.6 percentage points in 2012. (Because the data reported for 2012 represents a 2008-2012 average, these figures span the period during and immediately following the Great Recession.) In our 2012 data, women’s unemployment was lower than men’s in 45 states (plus the District of Columbia), 61 of the 100 largest cities, and 110 of the 150 largest metro areas.  

The newly disaggregated data also show that in each gender group, unemployment remains significantly higher among people of color. Nationally, unemployment for White men was 7 percent, compared with 10 percent for men of color. Among women the gap was even greater: 6 percent unemployment for White women and 10 percent for women of color. Of course, these figures vary greatly among different regions. For example, the tables below list the regions with the lowest unemployment rates among men and women of color.

The Atlas makes it easy to dig a little deeper and compare rates of unemployment across different racial and gender groups. The following chart displays more detailed information for the Anchorage, AK metro region, which has one of the highest gender unemployment gaps in country:

Unemployment rate by race/ethnicity and gender: Anchorage, AK Metro Area, 2012

To explore this data for another region, city, or state, visit the National Equity Atlas.

1.       Click on Indicators in the navigation bar;

2.       Select the Unemployment indicator under Economic Vitality;

3.       Select “By gender” in the breakdowns underneath the chart.

You can also learn more about strategies for addressing inequities in employment and where to find supporting data, and check out “Full Employment for All: The Social and Economic Benefits of Race and Gender Equity in Employment”—a report prepared by PolicyLink and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE).