In the early days of the pandemic, claims for unemployment benefits shot to historic proportions in Nebraska. At its peak in April, claims for unemployment were more than 17 times higher than previous years. Since then unemployment has started to drop with many returning to work as the state enters new phases of reopening despite increasing daily COVID-19 cases that rival the state’s previous peak.
However, work has not returned as quickly for Nebraska’s minority communities, particularly African Americans.
Recent data from the Nebraska Department of Labor shows that as of Sept. 5, 2020, African Americans were unemployed at rates more than five times their share of the population. By comparison Hispanics, the largest minority group in the state were underrepresented with rates 0.8 times their share of the population.
The trend is not isolated to the state as across the nation Black Americans have faced higher unemployment and more obstacles to returning to work than others.