Can Republicans win black votes while cutting government jobs?

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Slate.com reports Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney discussed black unemployment during his speech at the NAACP conference today. With unemployment in the black community continuously double that of the national unemployment rate how can the Republican nominee for president campaign on shrinking government and win black votes? Often African-Americans take jobs within the government because they provide more stability, more opportunity for advancement and better pensions. Cuts to the public sector would most certainly hit African-Americans hardest in an already dismal job market.

I’m waiting to see what else Romney says about it, but the pre-speech part of his NAACP remarks that dealt with unemployment deserves another look.

The unemployment rate, the duration of unemployment, average income, and median family wealth are all worse for the black community. In June, while the overall unemployment rate remained stuck at 8.2 percent, the unemployment rate for African Americans actually went up, from 13.6 percent to 14.4 percent.

Republicans love this statistic — iron-clad proof that the first black president has been a disaster for blacks. What’s usually left unsaid is the the role that public sector lay-offs have had in pumping up those numbers. Black Americans tend to seek government jobs, historically more stable than the private sector, at a higher rate than other Americans.* In 2011, UC-Berkeley’s Labor Center looked at those numbers.

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