The U.S. Labor Department found weekly earnings rose by nearly 10 percent for full-time Black workers in the third quarter of this year—the fastest growth rate in nearly two decades.

The increase in earnings since the recession ended in mid-2009 for African-Americans is 15.7 percent. Latinos are next in line with 15.5 percent and Whites are a little more than 13 percent.

The report points out the bulk of the improvement for African-Americans and Latinos happened in the past two years.

William Spriggs, Chief Economist at the AFL-CIO, joined Roland Martin, host of NewsOne Now, to discuss the good economic news.

Spriggs called the Great Recession experienced by America the Great Depression 2.0 and said, “We’re climbing out of it—We’ve had record months of straight growth in jobs and now it’s finally starting to show up in wages of African-Americans.”

Institutional racism, in part, is the reason it took so long for African-Americans to net gains from the nation’s economic recovery, the economist notes.

“African-Americans are always sort of the last ones to get in on the party and so the last two years, you’re seeing it show in African-American wages and Latino wages,” Spriggs said.  

He noted the share of African-Americans who are employed has also increased in the last two years and is growing faster than Whites: “For Whites, the share of employment has been about the same, but for African-Americans, it’s shown marked improvement.”

Roland Martin made mention of Donald Trump and others’ claims that workforce participation is down as a result of people simply dropping out of the labor force. Spriggs responded, “We are also an aging economy and so when you hear labor force participation, that’s everyone over 16. My 95-year-old dad is counted as not in the labor force.

“This is included in the numbers and because we’re getting older, the labor force participation rate naturally is falling. A large part of the increase had to do with people being on disability, which actually goes up in economic downturns,” said Spriggs.

He also noted that the rise in employment is the result of people rejoining the workforce because they are no longer on disability.

President Barack Obama has been heavily criticized about the nation’s sluggish economy, but Martin reminded viewers about the state of the economy when the president arrived in office in January 2009.

It is as if folks forgot how bad 2008, 2009 and 2010 was [for the nation].” He added that the nation is just not going to “miraculously” wake up from a coma and rebound overnight as a result. “That’s not how it works,” said Martin.

Spriggs agreed with Martin’s assessment, saying the reversal is good news for African-American workers and their families.

Watch Martin and Spriggs discuss job and wage growth in the economy in the video clip above.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

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