Blacks, males in Md. hit hard by unemployment But women's rate didn't change in '92

August 24, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

Unemployment in Maryland, which reached a nine-year high last year, hit black and male workers harder than other groups, the U.S. Department of Labor reported yesterday.

In an analysis of the state's 1992 job market, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that while Maryland's unemployment rate rose three-quarters of a percentage point to 6.6 percent, women saw no increase in joblessness.

The unemployment rate for women remained at 5.9 percent in 1992.

At the same time, the unemployment rate for blacks jumped nearly 1 1/2 points to 11.2 percent. And the jobless rate for all male workers in Maryland rose one-third of a percentage point to 7.2 percent last year.

Despite the worsening, the statistics showed that Maryland's job market still performed better than the national average last year.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate averaged 7.4 percent in 1992. The jobless rate for blacks was nearly double that, at 14.1 percent.

The news was confirmation of a continuing disparity in economic prospects between the races, said George N. Buntin Jr., executive director of Baltimore's chapter of the NAACP.

"Whenever you have layoffs, blacks are the hardest hit," he said. "There are a lot of factors: racism, discrimination . . . the education system."

Black men, he noted, fared the worst. Their jobless rate rose nearly 2 1/3 points to 11.9 percent in 1992.

Mr. Buntin said Maryland blacks did better than blacks in other states because government agencies were large employers here.

"There is less discrimination in government" than in the private sector, he said.

Maureen Greene, an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics who helped prepare the analysis, said women generally tend to do better in recessions than men because they tend to work in less cyclical professions -- as office workers, teachers, nurses and the like.

Male-dominated workplaces, such as factories and construction sites, tend to lay off more, Ms. Greene noted.

Similarly, the economist said, while racism might contribute to the disparity in jobless rates between the races, black workers were also concentrated in industries -- such as steel and auto manufacturing -- that have suffered large layoffs in recent years.

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