While Asian Americans face a lower unemployment rate than white and Black Americans, this sole statistic masks the other ways in which they negatively experience the job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Asian American workers had an unemployment rate of 3.1%, in contrast to the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 3.6%. White employees had a rate of 3.2%.
Although Asian Americans had the lowest unemployment rate, they were more likely to experience long-term joblessness than any other demographic. The median duration of unemployment was reported to be 31.7 weeks in 2021, with Asian men having the highest length at 33.1 weeks.
This is in contrast to 31.7 weeks for Black men and 28.4 weeks for white men. Hispanic men reported second lowest at 27.1 weeks.
As of last month, those numbers have risen to 46.2 weeks for Asian American men and 33.9 weeks for Asian American women, according to a report using BLS statistics from Equitable Growth.
This was also true during the Great Recession (2007-10), when unemployment rates for Asian American workers were the lowest of any demographic, but Asian Americans faced the highest long-term unemployment rates.
According to report co-author Sanchez Cumming, the longer one is unemployed, the more difficult it is for a worker to become employed again, “and then if they do, it’s usually at a lower wage.”
Some of the reasons for the disparity could include language barriers, since a large percentage of Asian Americans are not native English speakers. Another could be that many foreign-born workers need their companies to sponsor their visa, an additional requirement some face when looking for jobs.
There is also a wide range of ethnicities within the broad category of “Asian American,” making it easy to paint averages as true for all Asian Americans when there are in fact large disparities between its subgroups.
Nepali women in 2020, for example, made as little as 46 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Taiwanese women, however, exceeded the amount by 20 cents, making $1.20 for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men made.