Economic Recovery Finally Starting To Reach Black Americans. Obama Gets Credit
Black Americans, hit hard by the economic recession of 2008, are recovering in the job market faster than any other race or ethnicity, but overall, they lag behind whites more than 25 percent on the Equality Index for Black America.
Economic and social equality for African-Americans improved slightly this year, driven by gains including higher earnings for black women and the number of black-owned businesses, according to a new report from the National Urban League.
The economic recovery has “finally started reaching people of color in some of the hardest-hit communities,” according to the National Urban League.
The unemployment rate among black Americans in the U.S. remains the highest at 7.9 percent in April, just above its pre-recession low, Bloomberg reported. That’s followed Hispanics, at 5.2 percent unemployment, whites at 3.8 percent unemployment and Asians at 3.2 percent.
“This is evidence of the last hired, first fired phenomenon,” said Valerie Wilson, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. “As the recovery continues on you start to see the biggest improvements for the groups that were hit the hardest.”
The National Urban League released its 2017 State of Black America report on May 2, during its annual Black America Empowerment Summit in Washington, D.C., the L.A. Sentinel reported.
The report included the National Urban League’s Equality Index, which documents the progress of economic empowerment for Blacks and Latinos.
Blacks, whites and Hispanics were compared for equality in economy, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.
Black Americans are at 72.3 percent overall on the 2017 Equality Index, which means blacks are missing 28 percent of the American pie compared to whites for equality in social and economic indicators, according to Marc Morial, National Urban League (NUL) president and CEO. Hispanics are at 78.4.
Much of the statistical information is from 2016, Morial told reporters from the Black Press on April 25.
When it comes to economics, blacks are at 56.5 percent on the Equality Index compared to whites. Blacks are 80 percent in health, 78.2 percent in education, 57.4 percent in social justice, and 100.6 in civic engagement.
Improved black economic conditions were mainly as a result of continued improvements in the black unemployment rate in the ongoing (economic) recovery, according to the report’s summary. “A boost in black women’s earnings, a decline in the share of blacks with high-price loans and growth in the percentage of black-owned businesses also contributed positively to the change.
“Recovery from the Great Recession has been slow, but it has been real,” Morial said in the report, but he warned, that progress is threatened,” The Story Exchange reported:
Morial considers potential cuts to public school funding and to government departments overseeing health and housing to be troubling for the African-American community in particular. Such moves “would devastate already vulnerable citizens and working families,” he says.
A preliminary budget proposal released in March by President Donald Trump suggests reductions in funding to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration, the Education Department and numerous other government agencies.
The National Urban League offered a plan in the report to help African-Americans achieve greater equality. Suggestions include a $15 minimum wage, creating new micro-financing opportunities for entrepreneurs, and expanding summer youth employment programs around the U.S.
Part of the 2017 State of Black America report included the “Obama scorecard,” which examined former President Barack Obama’s administration, Morial said.
“We gave President Obama an excellent rating, which is our second highest rating,” Morial said.
Obama is credited with many of the improvements identified in the report, including the increase of blacks with associate’s degrees, falling high school drop-out rates, and lower black unemployment. All these happened under the Obama administration, Morial said, according to the L.A. Sentinel:
“Very importantly, the progress, when we measure President Obama, looked at whether things had changed from the day he took office, to the day he left office. And in that regard, there was tremendous progress through very, very difficult times, with some areas where we gave the president low marks,” Morial stated.
According to Morial, the data showed that black homeownership declined on Obama’s watch and never recovered. And the prospect of support for small, black businesses and loan values for blacks continued to decline, even to the latter years of his administration, Morial added.