The U.S. saw mild improvements in the national unemployment rate last month, but the news is mixed for minorities who continue to be hit hard in the jobs arena, according to the Labor Department’s monthly joblessness report.

Unemployment fell nationwide for the second straight month, declining to 9.5 percent from 9.7 percent in May, according to the July 2 report, while private sector employment increased by 83,000 jobs. This apparent good news was offset by the report’s disclosure that 125,000 jobs in the public sector were lost as temporary census-related jobs ended.

Unemployment among Black men rose to 17.4 percent last month from 17.1 percent, while falling among Whites to 8.6 percent from 8.8 percent. There was, a slight decrease in joblessness among Black women from 12.4 percent to 11.8 percent.

“People desperately need jobs, and it’s a shame and a disgrace that it’s not declared an emergency,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said July 2, countering criticism of a proposed emergency jobs legislative package.

In a statement she said, “These gross disparities continue to underscore the urgent need for Congress to enact measures targeting communities that have been disproportionately hit by the economic slowdown and lag behind in the recovery.”

Lee said that while the declining overall unemployment rate is proof that the economy is improving, the pace of the nation’s economic recovery shows that government action to stimulate the economy and create jobs should remain a top priority.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said July 2 no amount of White House “spin” can paint a positive picture about a 9.5 percent unemployment rate. And despite the drop in unemployment, he said the loss of 125,000 jobs is proof that the labor force is deteriorating. All businesses are seeing are higher taxes, higher interest rates, more regulation, and more uncertainty, he said.

“Whether it’s their $862 billion stimulus package that failed to keep unemployment under 8 percent, or their government takeover of healthcare, or their looming national energy tax, the simple fact is that the cumulative effect of this administration’s policies has yet to foster an economic climate capable of producing sustainable job growth,” Steele said.