Trump approaches 2020 election with Black unemployment rate almost similar to Obama's presidency in 2012
President Donald Trump has always been critical of his predecessor Barack Obama and tried to project himself to be a better administrator than the latter. But the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact have left him under a lot of stress to win the second term. However, amid the gloom, new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, August 7, might generate some hope for the Republican. They have shown that the overall unemployment rate in the US fell from 11.1 percent in June to 10.2 percent in July and the joblessness among the Blacks has remained the same as it was before Obama’s re-election win in 2012.
When Obama’s second term neared its end in 2016, the Black unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in July. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 -- the corresponding rates were 7.4, 6.6, and 5.9 percent, respectively. This year, the July unemployment rate in the Black community was less compared to April (16.7 percent), May (16.8 percent) and June (15.4 percent).
In September 2018, Trump tweeted to ask why Democrats continued to win the Black vote despite the nation seeing a low unemployment rate for African-Americans, for which he himself took credit. He wrote: “So if African-American unemployment is now at the lowest number in history, median income the highest, and you then add all of the other things I have done, how do Democrats, who have done NOTHING for African-Americans but TALK, win the Black Vote? And it will only get better!”
So if African-American unemployment is now at the lowest number in history, median income the highest, and you then add all of the other things I have done, how do Democrats, who have done NOTHING for African-Americans but TALK, win the Black Vote? And it will only get better!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2018
However, Black Americans have not been too impressed with Trump's claims. According to a report in The Washington Post in January this year that cited a survey, "A 77 percent majority of black Americans say Trump deserves 'only some' or 'hardly any' credit for the 5.5 percent unemployment rate among black adults compared with 20 percent who say Trump deserves significant credit. In follow-up interviews, many said former president Barack Obama deserves more credit for the improvement in the unemployment rate, which declined from a high of 16.8 percent in 2010 to 7.5 percent when he left office."
According to the bureau, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 1.8 million in July, and marked job increases were registered in government, retail trade, hospitality, leisure, health, and service sectors after the coronavirus-time lockdown measures have rolled back.
“These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the bureau said in a release. Though the federal agency also said that the unemployment rates did not decrease for all communities. While they went down for America’s White, Asian, and Hispanic communities, unemployment in the Black community remained at 14.6 percent. The Trump camp could take solace from the fact that four months in the run-up to the 2012 polls, Black employment stood at 14.2 percent even when Obama was in power. The former president’s administration too was dealing with an economic slowdown caused by the financial crisis of the late 2000s.
The glass is half empty for experts
For many, the glass is, however, half empty. Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Nicole Goldin was quoted by Newsweek as saying: “One troubling factor remains steady as the jobless rate fluctuates from month to month—persistently higher than average unemployment among Black, Hispanic, young, and female Americans. The US economy was marked by intergenerational, racial, and gender inequality before the pandemic, and today's report does nothing to alter that reality.”
In 2012, the US employment rate in July was at 8.2 percent, down from the financial crisis peak of 10 percent unemployment in October 2009. By the time the election came that year, the rate of unemployment had diminished by only 0.5 percent points, according to the bureau.
“The nation's job market continued to heal in July, but still has a long way to go. With the gain in payrolls of 1.8 million jobs, this year’s jobs deficit has declined to 12.4 million. That’s a huge number,” Bankrate.com’s senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick was quoted as saying by the same news site. “As a historical benchmark, we’re reminded that a jobless rate of 10.2 percent remains above the 10 percent peak of the Great Recession a decade ago.”