- The unemployment rate for black Americans jumped to 7.7% in January, up from 6.8% in December, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
- The increase came during a month in which President Donald Trump repeatedly touted the record-low rate in tweets and his State of the Union address.
- The black unemployment rate is still down significantly from a high of 16.8% in March 2010, but it also remains well above the unemployment rate for white Americans.
The unemployment rate for black Americans jumped in January, a month in which President Donald Trump leaned on the figure as proof of the positive effects of his economic agenda.
In the January jobs report, released Friday by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the black unemployment rate increased to 7.7% from 6.8% in December. The rate in December was its lowest since the BLS began tracking black unemployment in 1972.
Trump used the record-low figure multiple times in January to argue that his economic policies were benefitting black Americans.
In one case, Trump tweeted about the record-low rate in response to criticism from the rapper and businessman Jay-Z.
“Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” Trump tweeted on Sunday morning.
CNN had aired a special interview with Jay-Z the evening before in which he said Trump’s slur toward African countries showed the president was “looking down on a whole population of people.” He also addressed Trump’s touting of the record-low rate.
“It’s not about money at the end of the day,” the rapper said. “Money doesn’t equate to happiness. It doesn’t. That’s missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings. That’s the main point.”
Trump also tweeted about the record low on January 19 – and he mentioned it Tuesday during his first State of the Union address.
The black unemployment rate in January was at its highest since April, and the month-over-month increase was its largest since June 2012. While the jump is notable, demographic unemployment rates can be subject to volatility since they are based on survey data.
The unemployment rate for black Americans remains in a long-term cyclical decline – down from a peak of 16.8% in March 2010.
At the same time, it remains higher than the unemployment rate for white Americans, which declined to 3.5% in January from 3.7% the month before. Black unemployment has never been equal to or lower than white unemployment in any month since the BLS began tracking it.
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