• Employment levels recover for Whites, Hispanics, and African Americans- overall and by gender
  • Hispanic women experienced a greater improvement in Index levels compared to other groups.
  • Index levels for 2021 continue to remain higher for Whites, followed by Hispanics and then African Americans.
  • For all races, current Index values continue to be below their pre-pandemic levels.

Welch Economists measure employment levels by race

What is the Welch Index for Race?

The Welch Index for Race is a data analytics tool used by our labor economists to measure full-time equivalent employment for Hispanics, African Americans, and Whites after adjustment for population growth. An Index value of 100.0 indicates that this adjusted full-time equivalent employment level is the same as in July 2019.

Any decrease (increase) in the Index value over a particular period implies that full-time equivalent employment level has decreased (increased) relative to the growth of the adult population during that period.

For example, over the past 12 months, the Index has fallen 5.1 points for African Americans from 97.3 to 92.2.  In other words, the level of full-time equivalent employment for African Americans has increased at a rate 5.1% slower than the increase in the U.S. African American adult population over the past year.  This decline in the employment level is 2 points and 1 point greater than the decline that Whites and Hispanics have experienced over the past one year, respectively.

For all race groups, the bulk of the last one-year decline has occurred between January and April 2020. This attributable relates to the onset of the COVID-19 crisis and related lockdown measures.

Welch Consulting offers data consulting services to help employers analyze and learn from large and complex data.

Employment Levels Recover for All Races, Most for Hispanics

The Welch Index for Whites increased in December 2020 and stabilized at 95.4 points in January and February of this year.  In March, the Index for Whites increased by .2 points from February to 95.6 points.  Whites have now recovered 64% of the initial 13.9-point decline between January and April of 2020.

After declining in February, the Index for African Americans improved again by .3 points from 91.9 in February to 92.2 points in March.  This group has now recovered close to 53% of the initial 16.3-point decline experienced in the initial months of 2020. African American Index is 7.5 points lower than what it was in January of last year.

Welch Consulting Employment Index by RaceThe Index for Hispanics has steadily improved since December of last year. In March, their Index was 1 point higher than in January, 1.4 points higher than in February, and 2 points higher than in December 2020.  With this continued improvement, Hispanics have recovered close to 63% of the initial 19.9 points decline between January to April of last year.

Over the last three years, the Index levels have declined by 3, 6.7, and 3 points for Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics.

Hispanic Women Experience a Higher Recovery in Employment Levels

The Welch Index for White men increased in January of this year and remained unchanged in February at 94.8 points. The Index for White women saw a marginal decline in January of this year which remained unchanged in February at 96.1 points. In March, however, the employment level for White men declined marginally by .1 point. On the other hand, the Index for women recovered by .7 points over the same period. The fraction of the January-April 2020 decline in employment levels that White women and men have recovered is now close to 70% and 57%, respectively.

Welch Consulting Employment Index by Race and Gender

Although fluctuating by a larger margin for men, the African American Index levels have generally followed a similar pattern this year for both men and women.  For African American men, the Index increased by 2.6 points in January, declined by .9 points in February, and then partially recovered again by .4 points in March. For African American women, the Index increased by .2 points in January, declined by .4 points in February, and recovered again by .2 points in March. As of March, the African American Index for men and women stood at 92.4 points and 91.9, respectively.  Despite this recovery, the Index levels for the two groups is 6.2 points and 8.8 points lower than what it was at the start of last year, respectively.

Employment levels after declining for both Hispanic men and women towards the end of last year, have steadily recovered for Hispanic men this year. In March, their Index stood at 94.7 points after increasing 1 point over the previous month.  The Index for Hispanic women rose in January, declined in February but recovered again by 2 points from 91.9 in February to 93.9 in March. The Index for Hispanic women had declined by a dramatic 21.6 points in the initial months of 2020 of which they have recovered close to 66%. Hispanic men have recovered close to 59% of their 18.7-point decline over the same period.

Underlying Factors Behind Employment Index Trends and Concluding Remarks

employment levels recover as businesses reopenOur economic consulting experts see an increase in employment by race following the vaccine rollout and relaxation of restrictions.  Leisure and Hospitality and Construction sectors experienced the most considerable improvements. Other industries that experienced job growth include Retail, Manufacturing, and Transportation.


Technical Note: Full-time equivalent employment equals full-time employment plus one-half of part-time employment from the BLS household survey (the Current Population Survey). The data reported for a given month is generally from the calendar week that contains the 12th day of the month. The Welch Index for race is based on individuals who are 20 years old and over. Seasonal effects for the share of workers employed in part-time jobs are removed in a regression framework using monthly indicator variables.

Cox, J. (2021, April 2). Jobs report blows past expectations as payrolls boom by 916,000 in March. CNBC Business News Economy.