Black unemployment fell to 6.8 percent in December, the lowest ever recorded by the U.S. Labor Department since it began tracking the black unemployment rate in 1972.
Economists say it's a sign the recovery from the Great Recession is finally starting to help a wider swath of the U.S. population.
During the aftermath of the financial crisis, black unemployment soared to 16.8 percent in 2010, meaning more than 1 out of every 6 African Americans was looking for a job but could not find one. The rate has steadily declined since, breaking the prior all-time low of 7 percent that was set in 2000 during the dot-com boom.
"6.8 percent unemployment rate for African Americans is lowest on record. Good news, except pretty bad news that this is the best ever,” tweeted Dean Baker, an economist at the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The white unemployment rate is 3.7 percent. The black-white gap in hiring and pay has existed for decades, with the black unemployment rate typically more than double that of whites. But the gap has narrowed slightly to 1.85 times higher unemployment for blacks instead of 2 times as much.