Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center paint a grim picture for the African American segment of the U.S. economy: Black unemployment is worse now than it was two years ago.

According to the report, Black unemployment rates are higher now than they were at the official end of the recession in June 2009. The unemployment rate then was 14.9 percent. It stood at 15.8 percent at the end of last month.

Gerry Hudson, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) says that the country must continue to work hard to create more opportunities for African Americans.

“This report demonstrates once again that we need to take enormous steps forward to close the racial economic divide for African American workers struggling through our nation’s jobs crisis,” Hudson said in a statement.

The report claims that the rate of unemployment grew faster for Whites during the recession, but Blacks have had a more difficult time bouncing back post-recession.

“Since the recession, the White male unemployment rate has decreased much more than the Black male unemployment rate and the White female unemployment rate fell slightly, in contrast to the increase in the Black female unemployment rate,” the report states.

Hudson says that gap must be closed. He says the rate of unemployment decrease should be the same for all Americans.

“We must make sure that this nearly 16 percent African American unemployment rate declines at the same rate as the rest of the nation,” he continued. “We must restore hope in the Dream for economic justice because America’s hardest working men and women deserve nothing less.”

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