Unemployment is still terrible, but with some signs of improvement. What signs of improvement is an interesting question, and The New York Times’ Upshot jobless tracker suggests the answer is all too predictable, because what’s more predictable in the U.S. economy than inequality?
The tracker finds the unemployment situation improving slightly for white people … while layoffs of Black people grow. And unemployment hasn’t dropped for women, but men’s employment has risen. So that’s what the start of reopening looks like: things are getting better for white people and men, not improving for women, and getting worse for Black people.
Where have we heard that story before? Oh, right, everywhere, all the time. The data doesn’t allow a detailed explanation for why this is—“One possibility is that the pandemic is disproportionately hitting industries and regions that are more heavily African-American,” and the industry explanation almost certainly applies to the gender gap—but while it will be good to be able to pick it apart more fully as more data emerges, we don’t want to lose the bigger story about U.S. racial and gender inequality.
The Upshot notes that its tracker isn’t official government data, but is “an analysis of daily surveys by Civis Analytics, a data science firm that works with businesses and Democratic campaigns.” While it’s not official data, it has been “roughly consistent” with that data when it comes out, having shown some improvement ahead of the May jobs report.