According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the labor market difficulties of blacks and Hispanics are related to a variety of factors, not all of which are measurable. These factors include lower average levels of schooling, the tendency to be employed in occupations with high levels of unemployment, a greater concentration in the central cities of urban areas where job opportunities may be limited, and the increased likelihood of experiencing discrimination in the workplace.
Estimates derived from the BLS's Current Population Survey are used to describe some of the labor force characteristics of the state's major race and ethnic groups. In some cases, the large error ranges around these sample-based estimates make it difficult to know for sure if differences actually exist between the employment statuses of the various groups.
Oregon's Hispanic labor force participation rate was higher than the nation's 68 percent and the state's white participation rate was slightly higher than the nation's 65 percent, as shown in Graph 1. The participation rate of blacks in Oregon was lower than the nation's 62 percent rate, and the participation rate of Asians was 1 percentage point lower than the national average.
In addition, blacks and Hispanics have converged closer to the white unemployment rate while reducing their unemployment numbers in 2010. Oregon's unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage point, but blacks or African Americans dropped by 2.4 percentage points, Hispanics or Latinos by 0.8 percentage point, and Asians by 0.8 percentage point - all above the average. Whites, on the other hand, dropped by a below-average amount of 0.1 percentage point.
Among the major race and ethnic groups, the unemployment rate was 2.3 percentage points higher among whites in Oregon when compared with the nation. This was the only group to have a higher rate than the nation. All other groups had unemployment rates that were lower than the national average. Blacks or African Americans had the largest difference between the state and national rates - Oregon's rate was 3.2 percentage points lower. The unemployment rate for Asians was 2.3 percentage points lower in Oregon, and the rate for Hispanics was 0.9 percentage point lower in Oregon.
Unemployment Rate: The share of the labor force that has no employment, is available for work (except for temporary illness), and made efforts to find employment sometime during the four weeks prior to being surveyed. However, people waiting to be recalled from a layoff do not need to be looking for work to be considered unemployed.