The Unemployment Rate For Native Americans Has Been Over 10 Percent For Five Years


While the unemployment rate for white workers peaked at 9.1 percent in 2010 and is now down to 6.1 percent, Native Americans have experienced double digit unemployment rates ever since 2008, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. Their current rate hovers over 11 percent.

EPI Native American unemployment

A potential solution for this problem that the report singles out is to create jobs through infrastructure investment, particularly in Indian Country, which has “large, unfilled infrastructure needs.”

But instead the country is doing the opposite and withdrawing money from Native American communities. Sequestration cuts that took effect in March immediately caused hardship for schools on or near reservations that rely on federal Impact Aid, and the second round of cuts has forced some to lay of teachers and staff, eliminate extracurricular activities, or even close schools outright. The cuts hampering schools come at a time when Native American students have seen virtually no improvement in closing the academic achievement gap with white students since 2005 and they fall behind their white peers in college readiness.

Meanwhile, many programs that help low-income people were exempted from sequestration’s cuts, but as Annie Lowrey reported at the New York Times, “virtually none of the programs aiding American Indians — including money spent through the departments of interior, education, health and human services and agriculture — were included on that list.” That has meant fewer health services, less financial support for the less well off, and more crime, among other impacts. Unemployment and poverty have both increased. These programs can expect another round of cuts next year if sequestration remains in place.