Economy and Workforce
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity

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Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20

What does this measure?

The unemployment rate for racial and ethnic groups in a geographic area. Unemployed individuals are those without jobs who are able, available and seeking work; the rate presents them as a share of the total labor force.

Why is this important?

Unemployment rates are a relatively timely indicator of current local economic conditions, particularly recent changes in the employment landscape that reflect the overall health of the economy.

How is our region doing?

In 2016-20, 7% of both African American and Hispanic residents of the region were unemployed, compared to 4% for both Asian and white residents. This is in line with disparities observed at the statewide and national levels, but the region's unemployment rates for Hispanic and African American residents are lower than the nation or the State of Massachusetts. Unemployment rates for all groups in Middlesex, Norfolk and Worcester counties were similar. The highest rates in the counties were 8% for African American residents in Norfolk County and 7% in Worcester counties for Hispanic residents.

Since 2000, the region's unemployment rate declined 1 percentage point among Hispanic workers and increased 1 percentage point among white residents.

Why do these disparities exist?

While traditional explanations for employment rate disparities focus on education and training gaps, whites tend to be employed at higher rates than Blacks and other people of color at every education level (high school, some college, bachelor's degree, etc.). This has led many researchers to focus on labor market discrimination as a primary cause of higher unemployment among people of color. However, it is also true that education levels are generally lower for people of color, suggesting that the education system's failure to equitably serve people of color is also a contributing factor.

Notes about the data

The multi-year figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.

Data on unemployment by race and ethnicity is only available from the American Community Survey, and it is somewhat different from the total population unemployment data produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics using responses to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Two different survey methodologies are used (ACS responses are collected by mail, phone and in person; CPS uses phone and in-person interviews), CPS questions on employment are more detailed, and CPS requires that someone be "actively" searching for work (interviewing, calling contacts) in order to qualify as unemployed. In addition, the ACS estimates used here cover a 5-year period, compared to an annual average of monthly estimates presented in the general unemployment indicator. In 2009, the annual unemployment estimates for the nation from the two surveys varied, with ACS at 9.9% and CPS at 9.3%. Data for this indicator are expected to be released in the fourth quarter.

Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
United States4.3%9.2%6.2%4.6%
Massachusetts4.2%8.3%8.3%4.5%
Region3.9%6.9%6.5%4.1%
Middlesex County4.1%7.0%6.0%3.9%
Norfolk County3.4%8.2%*6.3%*4.1%
Worcester County3.6%*5.2%*7.3%4.6%
Acton town, Middlesex County3.5%***27.0%***10.9%***5.0%*
Ashland town, Middlesex County0.0%***20.1%***6.3%***2.7%**
Bedford town, Middlesex County4.7%***14.3%***0.0%***6.3%***
Bellingham town, Norfolk County11.4%***9.4%***0.0%***3.8%***
Boxborough town, Middlesex County3.9%***0.0%***21.4%***11.1%***
Carlisle town, Middlesex County11.1%***0.0%***0.0%***2.9%***
Concord town, Middlesex County2.0%***0.0%***5.0%***3.3%**
Dedham town, Norfolk County6.4%***11.7%***1.8%***2.7%**
Dover town, Norfolk County6.6%***0.0%***25.0%***4.8%***
Framingham city, Middlesex County4.4%***12.5%**6.2%**5.3%*
Franklin town, Norfolk County0.0%***35.8%***11.3%***3.8%***
Groton town, Middlesex County0.0%***0.0%***0.0%***4.1%***
Harvard town, Worcester County0.0%***0.0%***4.3%***4.1%***
Holliston town, Middlesex County2.2%***0.0%***0.0%***3.8%**
Hopkinton town, Middlesex County4.5%***0.0%***2.8%***2.9%***
Hudson town, Middlesex County5.1%***11.2%***0.0%***4.2%**
Lexington town, Middlesex County4.7%***0.0%***0.0%***3.2%**
Lincoln town, Middlesex County0.0%***0.0%***14.5%***3.8%***
Littleton town, Middlesex County2.7%***0.0%***0.0%***5.4%***
Marlborough city, Middlesex County0.5%***5.3%***6.8%***4.4%*
Maynard town, Middlesex County0.0%***0.0%***0.0%***1.6%***
Medfield town, Norfolk County7.2%***0.0%***0.0%***2.9%**
Medway town, Norfolk County0.0%***4.1%***1.5%***3.0%***
Milford town, Worcester County6.8%***0.5%***7.6%***3.9%*
Millis town, Norfolk County0.0%***0.0%***0.0%***2.5%***
Natick town, Middlesex County1.2%***1.1%***0.3%***4.5%*
Needham town, Norfolk County4.5%***9.1%***11.5%***4.3%*
Sherborn town, Middlesex County0.0%***0.0%***0.0%***3.4%***
Southborough town, Worcester County2.8%***0.0%***0.0%***2.1%***
Stow town, Middlesex County5.1%***65.9%***3.7%***0.7%***
Sudbury town, Middlesex County1.0%***0.0%***0.0%***4.7%***
Walpole town, Norfolk County0.0%***4.5%***8.4%***5.0%*
Waltham city, Middlesex County2.2%***3.5%***4.1%***2.2%*
Wayland town, Middlesex County1.1%***0.0%***6.3%***2.0%***
Wellesley town, Norfolk County0.9%***27.7%***7.7%***4.5%*
Westborough town, Worcester County0.2%***3.0%***0.0%***2.6%***
Westford town, Middlesex County3.1%***0.0%***13.2%***4.1%*
Weston town, Middlesex County5.1%***0.0%***9.9%***3.8%***
Westwood town, Norfolk County1.0%***0.0%***0.0%***4.7%**

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




Number Unemployed by Race/Ethnicity, 2016-20
AsianBlack or African AmericanHispanicWhite
United States421,0211,853,3751,791,3725,353,759
Massachusetts10,99223,29634,407132,363
Region7,0006,8908,72356,830
Middlesex County4,6943,3904,22127,288
Norfolk County1,5192,358*1,182*12,537
Worcester County787*1,142*3,32017,005
Acton town, Middlesex County103***136***78***454*
Ashland town, Middlesex County0***142***41***223**
Bedford town, Middlesex County59***16***0***372***
Bellingham town, Norfolk County14***22***0***351***
Boxborough town, Middlesex County20***0***21***297***
Carlisle town, Middlesex County23***0***0***62***
Concord town, Middlesex County16***0***16***223**
Dedham town, Norfolk County38***143***23***328**
Dover town, Norfolk County25***0***24***110***
Framingham city, Middlesex County157***319**441**1,533*
Franklin town, Norfolk County0***92***44***692***
Groton town, Middlesex County0***0***0***228***
Harvard town, Worcester County0***0***7***103***
Holliston town, Middlesex County10***0***0***293**
Hopkinton town, Middlesex County61***0***6***245***
Hudson town, Middlesex County16***10***0***445**
Lexington town, Middlesex County237***0***0***347**
Lincoln town, Middlesex County0***0***9***90***
Littleton town, Middlesex County11***0***0***272***
Marlborough city, Middlesex County7***53***234***782*
Maynard town, Middlesex County0***0***0***90***
Medfield town, Norfolk County20***0***0***175**
Medway town, Norfolk County0***4***3***215***
Milford town, Worcester County31***3***158***518*
Millis town, Norfolk County0***0***0***102***
Natick town, Middlesex County34***5***2***758*
Needham town, Norfolk County68***37***43***558*
Sherborn town, Middlesex County0***0***0***70***
Southborough town, Worcester County21***0***0***100***
Stow town, Middlesex County15***87***1***20***
Sudbury town, Middlesex County10***0***0***378***
Walpole town, Norfolk County0***10***58***608*
Waltham city, Middlesex County102***98***205***603*
Wayland town, Middlesex County10***0***26***118***
Wellesley town, Norfolk County17***99***61***465*
Westborough town, Worcester County5***10***0***180***
Westford town, Middlesex County90***0***35***415*
Weston town, Middlesex County44***0***26***154***
Westwood town, Norfolk County7***0***0***334**

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Notes: Multiyear results are from rolling American Community Survey. * Margin of error between 20% & 35% of estimate; ** margin of error between 35% & 50%; *** margin of error greater than 50%. The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African-American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.




INDICATORS REGIONAL TREND
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Maintaining
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Decreasing
Reports of Domestic Violence Increasing
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Contribution Maintaining
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Drug Poisoning Mortality Rate Increasing
Crimes Against People Decreasing
Incarceration Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Total Population Increasing
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Change in Population by Age/Gender Not Applicable
Seniors Living Alone Decreasing
People with Disabilities Maintaining
Change in Total Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Share of Workers who are Professionals, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
High-Tech Jobs Maintaining
Female to Male Earnings Ratio Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 English, by Student Group Not Applicable
School Spending Per Student Maintaining
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
Chronically Absent Students Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
College Admission Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Education Level Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households Receiving Temporary Assistance Maintaining
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
80/20 Income Ratio Maintaining
Access to Financial Services, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Increasing
Homeownership Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership Increasing
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Not Applicable
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homelessness Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Incarceration Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Change in Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Business Ownership by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Share of Workers who are Professionals, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 English, by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math by Student Group Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate by Student Group Not Applicable
College Admission Rate, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Access to Financial Services, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable


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