LISEP analysis shows living wage job growth for black workers for 4th month

WASHINGTON, November 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — For the fourth consecutive month, a higher percentage of black workers are finding gainful employment, according to the Ludwig Institute of Shared Economic Prosperity’s (LISEP) October Real Unemployment Rate (TRU) report. That’s the modest good news.

But the bad news is that black workers still have a lower percentage of lifetime pay jobs than white workers. And, the living wage employment gap between female workers and their male counterparts has reached double digits, the largest disparity since the start of the pandemic.

“We are seeing encouraging signs of an improving economy, with black and Hispanic workers closing the racial inequality gap in recent months and a general improvement in living wage job prospects, although we we still have a long way to go to obtain fair treatment”, declared the president of LISEP Gene Ludwig. “Yet the growing gender gap is concerning, because a truly sustainable economic recovery must treat all participants equally.”

LISEP’s TRU report for October found that the overall percentage of “functionally unemployed” Americans – defined as those seeking, but unable to find, full-time paid employment above the poverty line – fell to 23.5%, a decrease of 0.4 percentage point on the previous month. For comparison, the monthly unemployment rate released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is 4.6% for October, down 0.2 percentage points from 4.8% in September.

For the fourth month in a row, black workers saw an improvement in living wage employment prospects, with functional unemployment for this group improving by 1.2 percentage points, from 27.9% to 26.7% . The Black TRU has improved by more than 3 percentage points over the July 2021 level (29.8%), and is the lowest since December 2019, which was also 26.7%. Hispanic workers led all demographic groups with a 1.4 percentage point improvement in TRU (from 28.8% in September to 27.4% in October), while white workers lost ground with a TRU up by 0.3 percentage point, 22.3% against 22.0% the previous month.

But even though the racial gap for life-paying jobs has narrowed, the same cannot be said for the gender gap. Male workers saw a significant improvement in the October TRU report, dropping 1.4 percentage points from 19.9% ​​to 18.5%. Women, meanwhile, moved in the opposite direction, rising from 28.7% to 29.1%, a gain of 0.4 percentage points. The 10.6 percentage point gap between male and female workers is the first time the gap has gone into double digits since the start of the pandemic, when the difference was 11.1 percentage points in May 2020.

Ludwig said that overall it was an encouraging report, but there are some aspects – especially the growing gender gap – that should serve as a signal to policy makers.

“It’s gratifying to see most numbers moving in the right direction, but we clearly have a lot of work to do for low- and middle-income America,” Ludwig said. “Without a doubt, final passage of President Biden’s infrastructure bill is a step in the right direction – not only will it provide a pipeline of well-paying jobs for the foreseeable future, but it will expand critical infrastructure necessary for our nation to compete aggressively in the global economy.

“But without a commitment to human infrastructure – childcare, elder care, education, job training, etc. – we could very well see some groups being left behind even further. Policymakers should take note. “

About TRU
LISEP published the white paper “Measuring Better: Development of ‘True Rate of Unemployment Data as the Basis for Social and Economic Policy” when the new statistical measure was announced in October. The document and the methodology can be consulted here. LISEP issues the TRU one to two weeks after the release of the BLS unemployment report, which occurs on the first Friday of each month. The TRU rate and supporting data are available on the LISEP website at

The Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity (LISEP) was created in 2019 by Ludwig and his wife, Dr. Carole Ludwig. LISEP’s mission is to improve the economic well-being of middle- and low-income Americans through research and education, and seeks to advance the dialogue around policy solutions to improve the well-being of all Americans.

On Gene Ludwig
In addition to his role as President of LISEP, Gene Ludwig is the founder of the Promontory family of companies and Canapi LLC, a fintech venture capital fund. He is the CEO of Promontory MortgagePath, a technology-based mortgage management and solutions company, and Chairman of Promontory Financial Group. Ludwig is the former Vice President and Chief Comptroller of Bankers Trust New York Corp., and served as Comptroller of the United States Currency from 1993 to 1998. He is also the author of the book The fading American dream, which studies the economic challenges faced by low- and middle-income Americans. He left in September 2020 by Disruption Books. On Twitter: @geneludwig.

SOURCE Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity

Michael A. Bynum