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By: Brad Adler
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in February, down slightly from 7.9 percent in January, 2013. Among the major groups, the unemployment rate for Caucasians declined in February to 6.8 percent while the rates for adult men (7.1 percent), adult women (7 percent), teenagers (25.1 percent), African-Americans (13.8 percent), and Hispanics (9.6 percent) showed little or no change.
While the unemployment rate has steadily declined since it hit 10 percent at the height of the “Great Recession” in late 2009, even the current rate is dramatically higher than, for instance, the employment rate in May 2007 (4.4 percent). While commentators debate the impact of unemployment on employment discrimination claims, the EEOC’s charge statistics seem to support a direct connection. In 2007, there were 82,792 EEOC Charges filed. Only three years later and the full impact of the Great Recession hitting employers and their workforce, EEOC charge filings swelled to 99,922. All of this is to say that, while the economy has rebounded (some say only modestly) since 2009/2010, employers need to be aware that the current unemployment rate can contribute to an increased sensitivity by employees and an environment that breeds EEOC Charges.