According to the Department of Labor, the employment rate for Black women rose 2.5 percentage points from February 2020 to April 2021. That uptick brings the employment rate to 61.1 percent. A recent report shows those numbers signify a 22-year high for Black women’s employment. The report showed that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Black women have not only kept their heads above water but have actually seen gains in the labor market. This development marks the highest employment rate for Black women since the recession in 2008.

Uptick in Employment

The uptick in employment is especially noteworthy considering how hard the pandemic hit Black women. They saw higher rates of unemployment and the highest rates of death from COVID-19. Despite this, Black women have seen a steady rise in employment since 2011, and the job market has fully recovered from the pandemic. The Labor Department’s figures also showed that the labor force participation rate for Black women increased 2.2 percentage points over the last year, reaching the same level as February 2020. Additionally, the unemployment rate among Black women hit a record low of 4.2 percent in April, although it is still higher than the 2.8 percent among white women.

Photo by: Christina Wocintech

The numbers are a testament to the strength, resilience, and tenacity of Black women, who have managed to rise above the challenges of the pandemic and come out stronger on the other side.

Previous Reports Showed a Downward Spiral

In 2022, the U.S Department of Labor published a report discussing the resilience of Black women in the face of being overlooked in the labor market, compared to other races. The report revealed significant disparities in employment rates across races and ethnicities, with Black and Hispanic adult women experiencing the most drastic job losses during the pandemic. At the time, the employment rate of adult Black women significantly lagged behind that of their white counterparts. As of 2022, the unemployment rate for Black women is the highest among all groups. At the time, the result illustrated the stark realities of racial inequality in the job market.