By Raksha Kopparam, Senior Research Associate
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data on California’s labor market during the month of August 2023. Below is the California Black Women’s Collective Empowerment Institute analysis of data on the employment situation of Black women workers across the state of California.
Since the start of the year, Black women in California have been re-entering the labor force in growing numbers. In August, the Black women’s employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) rose back to June levels, while the EPOP of White, Asian American, and Latina women either fell or stagnated. In August, California added over 23,000 new non-farm jobs, which contributed to 12.4 percent of the nation’s job gains of the month. Most of these new jobs were in the government, construction, and leisure and hospitality industries, which have a large share of Black women workers.
In August, Black women’s labor force participation rate jumped by over 3 percentage points to 56.7 percent, the highest LFPR of all races of women in California. Historically, Black women have the highest LFPR of all races of women, and one of the explained variables for this is the economic burdens of single motherhood. Approximately 65 percent of Black women with children are single mothers, either never married, divorced, separated, or widowed. Single mothers face a larger burden to meet all their household’s financial needs with just one person’s income as opposed to two. While a high labor force participation rate is a positive indicator of a strong economy, the underlying racial disparities that women face in the labor market often gets ignored.
While California’s unemployment rate remained at 4.6 percent for the third consecutive month, Black women’s unemployment rate rose by .5 percentage points. Economists suggest that increases in unemployment could be a result of more Black women starting to look for high-quality jobs. New job openings in sectors with a growing share of Black women workers, such as the private education and health services, combined with falling interest rates over the last two months, indicate that Black women are more confident in their job prospects and are choosing to re-enter the labor force for more skills-matched jobs.