The black-white unemployment gap widened in May

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The black-white unemployment gap widened in May, although it remains in a secular downward trend, according to BLS data released Friday.

The white unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.7 percent. For blacks, the rate climbed to 10.2 percent from 9.6 percent in April.


April was the first time the unemployment rate for blacks had fallen below 10 percent since 2008.

The unemployment rate for whites has been at 4.7 percent since February, and their labor force participation rate — the number of employed and unemployed as a percent of their working-age population — has climbed above 61.3 percent in nearly a year.


The overall jobs report was solid, with 280,000 jobs added, and the labor force participation rate up slightly. Average hourly earnings climbed 2.3 percent from last May, the fastest growth since the summer of 2013. The unemployment rates for 25-34 year-olds was unchanged from April at 5.8 percent.

But the labor market could still be stronger, according to Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

"While this is an encouraging report, the evidence continues to point to the fact that the Federal Reserve should not even start a conversation about raising interest rates until 2016," she said in a statement. "Even though job growth was solid, it needs to be sustained over a longer period of time in order to significantly tighten the labor market to the point where we finally see significant wage growth."

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.