White House takes victory lap as Black unemployment remains low

The White House is taking a victory lap this week after December’s jobs report revealed that the Black unemployment rate remains low at 5.2%, dropping slightly from previous months. 

The rate of jobless Black Americans now stands at its lowest since April 2023, when the unemployment rate for the community reached a record low of 4.8%. 

Kirabo Jackson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told theGrio that continued low unemployment for Black Americans results from President Joe Biden’s policies that have led to an overall strong economy.

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Jan. 5, 2024. Biden is heading to Pennsylvania, where he is scheduled to speak near Valley Forge ahead of the third anniversary of the assault on the US Capitol. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Jackson said President Joe Biden’s signature Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and CHIPS and Science Act, which have sent billions of investments to the manufacturing and construction industries, among other legislation, have led to significant growth in the economy in terms of jobs and wages.

“We saw a real wage growth of 4% over the past year, which is outpacing inflation,” said Jackson. “These are benefits that have accrued mainly to those at the bottom half of the distribution, and this has been accrued to populations, particularly Black workers, Hispanic workers, and also women.”  

Black Americans, he said, have benefited greatly. He noted that the annual rate of unemployment for Black Americans in 2023 was 5.5%, which was the lowest such rate since jobs data began being collected in 1972.

Brendan Duke, senior director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, told theGrio that in today’s post-COVID-19 pandemic economy, the labor market remains tight and is drawing in workers. That has made it “uneconomical” for employers not to hire Black workers, something he said is “normally a huge problem in the economy.”

Duke said there were especially job gains in state and local governments, where Black workers are disproportionately employed. 

Recommended Stories

“Coming out of the Great Recession, it took a long time for state and local government employment to get back to where it was before the recession,” he explained. 

Duke attributed that strong recovery to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, which included federal funding for housing, food, health care, child care, and other assistance for Americans during the pandemic.

Jackson of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers also noted that in addition to increased jobs and wages, there were gains in the racial gap between Black and white Americans.

“The gap in employment ratios between Black and white Americans is also as low as it’s been almost ever on record,” he shared. “There’s a lot more work to do, but we’re seeing a lot of progress. We want to build on that progress in the future.”

“One of the things that the President has done with his plan is make sure that we invest in Black communities,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told theGrio during Thursday’s press briefing. “That is something that the president finds to be incredibly important.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a news briefing at the White House on Jan. 4, 2024, in Washington, D.C. Jean-Pierre spoke on a range of topics including the recent shooting at a high school in Perry, Iowa. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

While the overall racial wealth gap has widened, Jean-Pierre pointed to other economic indicators that the health of the Black economy is improving under the Biden-Harris administration. 

“Black wealth is up at a record 60% since 2019,” said the Biden spokesperson, who highlighted that the number of Black households owning a business has more than doubled since 2019. 

Last month, President Biden traveled to Milwaukee to deliver a speech highlighting his administration’s record investment in Black businesses

Those actions include a record $70 billion in federal contracts awarded to small, disadvantaged businesses and $12 billion in investments in community lenders to expand access to capital and resources, which is expected to increase community lending to nearly $80 billion over 10 years.

As a result, Jean-Pierre said, Black business ownership is “growing at the fastest pace in 30 years.”

The White House press secretary also said that two-thirds of new clean energy jobs, through the Inflation Reduction Act, have come to communities of color, including nearly 60,000 in Black communities. 

“These are the actions that the president has been able to take through legislation,” said Jean-Pierre. “We have seen communities, like the Black community, be able to see an investment in their communities and also not be left behind as they have been for decades.”

Gerren Keith Gaynor

Gerren Keith Gaynor is a White House Correspondent and the Managing Editor of Politics at theGrio. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter.

Source link
The White House is celebrating the low Black unemployment rate of 5.2%, attributing it to President Joe Biden’s economic policies. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other legislation have led to job and wage growth, particularly benefiting Black workers. Post-pandemic economic recovery has made it advantageous for employers to hire Black workers. Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan has contributed to this recovery. The Biden administration has also invested in Black communities, with a focus on Black businesses and clean energy jobs. President Biden’s actions have resulted in significant economic progress for the Black community, including increased Black wealth and business ownership. The White House is touting these achievements as evidence of their commitment to and investment in Black communities. While the overall racial wealth gap has widened, the Biden administration emphasizes positive economic indicators for the Black community and plans to build on the progress in the future.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.