Unemployment rates for Hispanic workers shot up in December, even as the jobless rate moderated for Black workers and held roughly steady for whites, showing that the costs of recent job losses were being felt unevenly across demographic groups.

The Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate jumped to 9.3 percent from 8.4 percent in November, partly reversing a rapid recovery since the figure popped to 18.9 percent in April. Before the pandemic, the Hispanic jobless rate was hovering around 4.4 percent.

At the same time, the Black unemployment rate continued a gradual decline, falling to 9.9 percent in December from 10.3 percent the month before. Unemployment for Black workers didn’t jump quite as high early in the pandemic — it peaked at 16.7 percent in April and May — but it has been easing more slowly than Hispanic joblessness.

A major concern throughout the pandemic has been the economic burden falling on those with the fewest resources to weather it. Job losses have been heavy in service businesses, particularly in relatively low-wage occupations that disproportionately employ racial and ethnic minorities.

White workers have been faring better than other groups. Their unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6 percent in December, from 5.9 percent in November, but is down from a peak of 14.1 percent last year. Still, that is about twice the 3 percent rate last February.

Asian workers are also doing comparatively well, with their unemployment rate at 5.9 percent in December, though that’s up from 2.4 percent in February.


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