Delaware Public Media

Delaware has nation's lowest unemployment rate among African Americans

May 17, 2017

A new report finds Delaware has the lowest rate of unemployment among African Americans nationwide.


The unemployment rate for African Americans in the First State was 5.8 percent in the first quarter of the year, while neighboring Pennsylvania had the nation’s highest rate at 11 percent.

Janelle Jones prepared the report for the Economic Policy Institute. She said there’s probably a number of reasons why the unemployment rate is drastically different between Pennsylvania and Delaware.


One is that Delaware has less black people than Pennsylvania. Another is that Pennsylvania’s large manufacturing industry has failed to recover from the recession, and a lot of African Americans were employed in these jobs.


“The industries, particularly manufacturing, have been a great way for African Americans with high school diplomas to find a great job. Those industries have been hit and we’ve seen that they’re still being hit since the recession,” Jones said. 


The report also finds Delaware has the smallest black-white unemployment ratio.

African Americans in the state have an unemployment rate 1.5 times the rate of white people. Nationally, African American unemployment rates are twice as high as whites.


“So in this measure Delaware is doing a little better than nationwide. But that still means there’s 1.5 unemployed black people for every one unemployed white person,” Jones said. 


Washington D.C. has the highest black-white ratio. The African American unemployment there is 5.6 times that of their white counterparts.

Delaware releases its latest unemployment numbers Friday. Last month, unemployment statewide sat at 4.4 percent.