Jobless rate for Black Americans drops as others rise

Thousands line up outside unemployment office in Frankfort

By Amina Niasse

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Black Americans were the only U.S. racial or ethnic group to see a drop in their jobless rate in August, helping drive the gap between the rates for Black people and white people back to near a record low.

A rise in the jobless rate to 6% for African Americans in June as rates for other key demographic groups fell or held steady had raised concerns among some economists that it might signal a broader weakening of the job market might be at hand. The unemployment rate for Black Americans historically has risen before an approaching recession and typically has turned higher before that of other groups.

But figures released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the rate for Blacks dropped for a second straight month. August's half-percentage point drop to 5.3% came as the rates for whites, Hispanics and Asian Americans all rose.

The overall U.S. jobless rate rose to 3.8% from 3.5%, but that was the result of growth in the workforce. Overall employment as measured by surveys of both employers and households rose in August.

The unemployment rate gap between Black and white Americans fell back to 1.9 percentage points, just 0.3 percentage points shy of the record 1.6-point gap in April.

(Reporting by Amina Niasse; Editing by Peter Graff)