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Asian Americans face long unemployment periods, other labor challenges

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Asian American workers are most likely to be out of work for long periods, even though they have the lowest rate of unemployment of any ethnic or racial group.

According to economists, aggregated data and topline figures fail to reflect the diverse labor markets experiences of Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians as well as Pacific Islanders.

Carmen Sanchez Cumming (a senior research assistant at Washington Center for Equitable Growth) stated, “Asian American workers’ labor market statistics typically reflect healthier conditions for the average worker.” However, there are large, significant disparities which can impact how resources will be distributed.

In April,The Labor Department reported that the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.1% for Asian workers. This compares to the 3.6% overall unemployment rate in the United States and 3.2% for white workers. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics has no monthly statistics on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander employees.

Other labor market statistics show that Asian Americans are more likely to be in long-term unemployment than the rest of us. The median duration of unemployment for Asian Americans was 21.9 weeks in 2021 — the longest period of any racial or ethnic group tracked by the BLS. For Asian men, the median duration of unemployment was 21.9 weeks.

Asian men had an average time of unemployment of 46.2 week while Asian women were unemployed for on average 33.9 weeks. a report from Equitable Growth found.

Sanchez Cumming, who was the author of this report, stated that “the longer the period one has been employed, the more difficult it becomes for a worker (and then, if they are able to get a job again), it is usually at lower wages.”

Transition rates — the likelihood of a worker moving from unemployment to reemployment — also show Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have a hard time getting reemployed once they became unemployed, according to an analysis from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The longer-term outcome of unemployment remains the same regardless of factors such as age or educational attainment.

Julie Cai from CEPR said that once you have adjusted for several demographic variables, if there is still a lower labor force transition rate, it will be attributed to discrimination or labor market stereotypes.

CEPR research revealed that AAPI women had the lowest likelihood of retraining after becoming unemployed in the first quarter 2022. This was compared to AAPI men and AAPI black, white, or Hispanic workers.

Monthly work transition rate for unemployed workers

AAPI Women AAPI Men Black Hispanic We are white
The first half of 2021 23.4 22.9 20.5 27.5 25.4
The second half of 2021 22.4 22.2 23.6 31.4 29.2
First quarter 2022 24.5 31.7 24.3 35.2 30.5

Source: Julie Cai (CEPR), based on calculations from the Monthly Current Population Survey. Measurement of work transition involves month-tomonth transitions from unemployment into employment. The results are adjusted to account for the workers’ education, age and current state. AAPI, Black-and-white groups exclude individuals who identify themselves as Hispanic.

Sanchez Cumming stated that research from past recessions has shown that certain factors can also impact the difficulty of Asian workers trying to find work in America. The United States is home to a large number of Asian American workers. Visa barriers and a lack of English proficiency can lead to difficulties in obtaining employment. Education abroad can also be punished.

Economists point out that there are vast disparities in labor markets within larger AANHPI categories. The country’s greatest intragroup economic inequalities are faced by Asian Americans. Pew Research Center found.

“Various AANHPI groups are concentrated in low and high-wage jobs. The differences in cultural, immigration patterns and generational wealth as well intersecting gender racial or ethnic biases are driving this dynamic,” Lauren Hoffman, Associate Director for Women’s Economic Security at American Progress, said.

As an example, in Nepal women received 46 cents for each dollar that was paid to white, nonHispanic women in 2020. Taiwanese women, on the other hand, were paid $1.20 per dollar that white, nonHispanic women earned. Hoffman’s analysis found.

Cai stated, “It is very important and pivotal that we disaggregate or try to understand more how subgroups of this population behaves in terms labor market outcomes.”

Hoffman explained that the only way to find comprehensive solutions is through disaggregation.

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