The rate of Black people being unemployed in America was at its lowest in nearly half a century last month, according to a new jobs report published Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the good news.
But a sobering dose of truth serum revealed that the Black unemployment rate was still seemingly eons away from being on a par with White and Asian workers, diluting the president’s obligatory self-congratulating tweets.
So while overall unemployment among American workers shrunk by 0.2 percentage points to 3.9 percent, Black folks looking for steady work stood at a staggering 6.6 percent. That was compared to a 3.6 White unemployment rate and 2.8 percent for Asians.
So why is Black unemployment barely budging while gains are serious strides are made among other demographics?
National Urban League President Marc Morial told CNBC that the “black homeownership rate and wealth gap between white and black Americans” deserves a good deal of the blame. “So you can’t look at the unemployment rate and say that’s a picture of the economy in black America,” he said.
The numbers trending downward isn’t a reason for optimism, Andre Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Privacy program at the Brookings Institute, told NPR in February following the president’s boasts of bringing Black unemployment to the lowest rate ever recorded,” as he said during his State of the Union address.
“[Politicians are] using improvement in the numbers to ignore the disparities, but there’s almost no celebration to be had,” Perry said before adding that African-Americans were “the sacrificial lambs for full employment.”
Without mentioning his name, the Associated Press gave a nod to former President Obama’s efforts at stimulating the economy for the steady decline in overall unemployment.
“The gains reflect an economy that has been steadily expanding for almost nine years, gradually putting more people to work after the country endured the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression in the 1930s,” the AP wrote Friday morning. “That pay growth suggests that some of the momentum from the slow but steady recovery from the 2008 financial crisis is spreading to more people after it had disproportionately benefited the nation’s wealthiest areas and highest earners.”