According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs report, in February, President Donald Trump’s first full month in office, the overall unemployment rate decreased slightly to 4.7 percent, compared to 4.8 percent in January, and 235,000 jobs were added to the economy.The gains in employment have occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care and mining.
However, when taking a closer look in regard to race, the number of jobs held by Black people has gone down. The percentage of Blacks who are unemployed increased to 8.1 percent, up from 7.7 percent in January. The rate for Latinos, 5.6 percent, slightly decreased, and the unemployment rates for whites and Asians are decreasing.
Also, the employment-population ratio, the share of the population that has jobs, is only declining for Black workers.
When looking at the statistics in regard to race and gender, the unemployment rate for Black males age 20 and older was greater than other adult groups in the job market in February. (Employment data for the U.S. Asian population in regard to gender is not included in the report.)
When the jobs report was released on March 10, White House press secretary Sean Spicer spoke with reporters regarding the president previously questioning the report’s validity.
“I talked to the president prior to this and he said, to quote him very clearly, ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now,'” Spicer said.
Trump retweeted a tweet by Drudge Report on March 10 with a link to a news story on the jobs numbers: “GREAT AGAIN: +235,000.”
Sen. Martin Heinrich(D-N.M.) said in a statement that the February jobs numbers “make clear what we have known for some time: President Trump did not inherit a mess, in fact he inherited one of the longest expansions in American history.”
The labor force participation rate, which is the share of the population that is employed or looking for work, decreased slightly overall from 62.4 percent to 62.3 percent in February.
But that may not be the case for African Americans. Valerie Wilson, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, said part of the reason the unemployment rate for Blacks may have gone up is because more were looking for work.
“We still maintain that roughly 2-to-1 ratio between Black and white unemployment,” Wilson told NPR in January.
“That disparity is very persistent and it’s present whether we’re in a recession or in a recovery. It’s present at all levels of education.”
In February 2016, the unemployment rate for Blacks was at 8.8 percent and continually decreased to 7.7 percent in January. The unemployment rate forBlack men was on the decline as well reaching 7.3 percent.
According to an Associated Press article published in January, “The jobless rate for Black Americans fell to 7.8 percent [in December] from 8 percent in November. That is the lowest level since 2007.
“For the 2016 calendar year, Black Americans made solid progress. Their unemployment rate fell sharply. And their labor force participation the proportion who were either working or looking for work rose.Despite the improvement, an employment gap by race remains stubbornly wide.”
On the campaign trail, then Republican presidential candidate Trump asked the Black community at-large during a rally in Michigan, “What the hell do you have to lose” in voting for him.
He earned only 8 percent of Black vote, which was roughly the same as the Black vote Mitt Romney garnered in the 2012 presidential election.Trump won the Electoral College vote by 77,000 votes scattered across three states (less than 1 percent in each state) and lost the national vote by close to 3 million.