Media Release                               Contact: Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition

9 June, 2010                                                                 Office: 314.531.2288

Economic Policy Institute Report: St. Louis Unemployment Effects Felt More by Minorities

(St. Louis, MO) – In a number of metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate for African Americans and Hispanics approached Great Depression-like levels in 2009, an Economic Policy Institute analysis finds. The report, Uneven Pain: Unemployment by Metro Area and Race by EPI researcher Algernon Austin, examines unemployment by race in the 50 largest metro areas in the United States.

The St. Louis metro area ranked 17th of 50 overall, with 9.9% of the population unemployed, .6% above the national average of 9.3%. White unemployment in the metro area was 8.4%, or 1.5% lover than the overall unemployment rate in St. Louis, the same percentage as the national average of white vs. overall unemployment.

The African American unemployment rate in St. Louis was 17.3%, the third highest of the areas studied. The report demonstrates that the 2009 ratio of African American unemployment to that of whites is 2.1:1, meaning that African Americans are 2.1 times more likely to be unemployed than whites.

No specific data describing Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic unemployment was available for the St. Louis area. However, the study does highlight white, African American and Hispanic shares of the labor force in the metro area. In 2009, whites consisted of 79% of the labor force, African Americans represented 16% of the labor force, and Hispanics accounted for only 2% of the entire St. Louis metro area labor force. It should also be noted that in most areas studied, the Hispanic metro unemployment rate exceeded 1.5 times the white metro unemployment rate.

“This study reinforces the need not only for far more job creation, but targeted job creation, specifically to high areas of unemployment, like the St. Louis metro area,” said Morgan Brammer of Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition. “Given the overlying budget crisis in Missouri, job creation must also shore up state and local governments, and provide them with more resources to curb the unemployment rate in the highest areas of unemployment.” “Concerning the highly troubling differences in unemployment among racial and ethnic groups, lawmakers need to make sure that the job creation that will occur is spread equally among racial and ethnic groups,” Brammer said.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute – or “think tank” – that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States and around the world. For more information about EPI, please contact Karen Conner or Eve Turow at 202.775.8810

Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition (Pro-Vote) is a statewide coalition of forty labor unions and community groups founded in 1992 to give grassroots organizations the tools to engage their membership in the public policy process. Pro-Vote and our member groups work on a wide variety of issues, including quality public education, quality & affordable health care access, workplace safety, environmental protection, living wage, civil rights, gun safety, reproductive rights, lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgendered rights, and pay equity.

Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition is part of The Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN): a network of state and regional multi-issue research, policy, and advocacy organizations. The network currently includes 56 organizations in 42 states. EARN is coordinated by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and works with a broad range of other national organizations.