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Tough Labor Market for Recent Black Graduates – Report

BLS Jobs Report: Strong Employment Gains, Tough Labor Market for Recent Black Graduates

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly jobs report for March, revealing a robust labour market with strong employment gains and a continued trend of low unemployment.

However, the report also underscored challenges faced by recent college graduates entering the workforce.

Labor Market Overview

The economy added 303,000 jobs in March, surpassing the expected 213,000. The unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points to 3.8%, extending a year-long trend of low unemployment.

The largest employment gains occurred in healthcare and government sectors, each adding 72,000 jobs. The construction, leisure and hospitality sectors also saw significant gains. Leisure and hospitality, which had lagged in post-pandemic recovery, reached pre-pandemic employment levels in March.

Unemployment Rate by Demographic

The BLS reported varying unemployment rates across different racial and ethnic groups. White workers had an unemployment rate of 3.4%, Asian workers 2.5%, and Hispanic workers 4.5%. Black workers, however, saw an increase in unemployment to 6.4%, driven primarily by a rise in unemployment among Black women.

Challenges for Recent College Graduates

Despite the overall positive job numbers, recent college graduates have faced obstacles in entering the workforce. A viral TikTok video of a recent graduate struggling to find work highlighted the disparity between their expectations and the reality of the job market.

In October 2022, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates was 7.3%, with men facing twice the unemployment rate of women. Racial disparities were also evident, with Black recent college graduates experiencing an 8.7% unemployment rate compared to 5.5% for White graduates.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys graduates six months after graduation to assess their career outcomes.

The report found that positive job outcomes for the class of 2022 had returned to pre-pandemic levels, but disparities remained. Men were more likely to receive bonuses than women, and Black and Hispanic graduates had lower starting salaries compared to White graduates.

Employers’ hiring intentions for the class of 2024 have shifted, with a projected decline of 1.9% in new college graduate hires. This is a sharp reversal from the growth of 31.6% seen in the spring of 2022.

While most employers still view the job market for new graduates positively, many young graduates express concern about the economy’s future. As the overall economy remains robust, challenges persist for recent college graduates seeking to establish themselves in the workforce.


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