President Donald Trump was right. As much as it pains me to type that, it’s true. In his much-criticized, self-congratulatory Memorial Day tweet, Trump boasted that Black unemployment was at an all-time low.
Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2018
It was tacky to pat himself on the back on a day dedicated to the men and women who gave their lives fighting for this country and he was roundly criticized for that narcissistic move. But as far as the content of the tweet, he was correct about the Black unemployment rate.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics officially released May numbers on June 1 and Black unemployment is in fact at an all-time low. For the first time since the Bureau began tracking race with unemployment statistics, the Black Unemployment rate is below 6 percent. It is 5. 9 to be exact.
Trump and his administration are of course taking credit for the historic statistic. His son Donald Trump, Jr, proudly hopped on Twitter to chest thump about Trump senior’s “accomplishment.”
“Black unemployment under 6% for the first time in history! Democrats, tell me again why anyone should vote for you and your economic policies ever again? Hate and BS isn’t a platform & will only get you so far. These numbers matter and benefit all Americans,” he wrote.
Black unemployment under 6% for the first time in history! Democrats, tell me again why anyone should vote for you and your economic policies ever again?
Hate and BS isn’t a platform & will only get you so far. These numbers matter and benefit all Americans. #maga 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 1, 2018
Not So Fast
It’s great that Black unemployment is the lowest it has ever been, but that statistic is not so impressive once appropriate context is added. The Bureau of Labor Statistics only counts people who are jobless and actively seeking work as unemployed. That means that people who are unemployed, but have given up on the job search are not included. The official term from the the Bureau of Labor Statistics is “discouraged workers.”
A feeling of hopelessness has been weighing on Black people ever since Trump was elected in 2016. The unemployment dip could be from people just outright giving up on the process not a surge of Black folks entering or re-entering the workforce.
Additionally, Black unemployment is still higher than of Hispanics (4.9 percent), Asians (2.1 percent) and whites (3.5 percent). There are numerous instances of Black unemployment being double (or more) of white unemployment. Even though the racial gap has gotten a tiny bit smaller, the fact that such a disparity exists between the races is troubling to say the least.
The subtly shrinking Black unemployment rate is not something to celebrate, it is something to analyze in its full context and actively work to eradicate the factors that keep Black Americans perpetually lagging behind white Americans when it comes to employment and numerous other socio-economic measurements.
Less tweeting, more doing.