Report: Black unemployment in Bay Area more than three times the average 

After 200 unanswered job applications, Ebony Isler finally landed a $15 an hour position as a medical assistant in Mission Bay. But since she's a temp worker, she earns less than her co-workers, who make $20 to $25 per hour for the same work.

Still, as a black woman in San Francisco, she is fortunate. The unemployment rate for black people in the Bay Area is 19 percent, according to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data crunched by the Economic Policy Institute.

Blacks are unemployed at more than three times the rate of workers of other races, according to this data. The Bay Area finished 2013 with a 6 percent total unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In San Francisco, unemployment has dropped rapidly since Mayor Ed Lee took office in January 2011, when the jobless rate was 9.5 percent. The most recent figures from the state Employment Development Department — which does not publish jobless rates by race — pegged The City's unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, by far the rosiest employment figures since the first dot-com boom at the turn of the millennium.

The wide gulf in the jobless rate between ethnic groups living in the same city belies the idea that The City and state have fully recovered from the Great Recession, according to advocates with the leftist Center for Popular Democracy.

The group released the unemployment figures by ethnicity Thursday as part of a national campaign to convince the Federal Reserve Bank to keep interest rates low in order for the economic recovery to trickle down to all workers.

So far, "the recovery is based on white America alone," said Isler, 36, a Bayview resident who holds an associates degree and a certified nursing assistant license. Her current job, the best she could find, does not cover her $1,800 a month rent, she said.

Statewide, the jobless rate for black people is 14 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, compared to 6.1 percent for whites, 8.5 percent for Latinos and 5.9 percent for Asians.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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