Trump deserves no credit for black jobless plunge

Earl Ofari Hutchinson | 1/25/2018, 6 a.m.

The Clinton years provide one answer to that question. During the late 1990s, joblessness tumbled to its lowest levels in two decades. Help wanted signs were everywhere. Deficit spending was not a major administration or congressional flashpoint issue, since the government had a healthy budget surplus. There was no wholesale flight of capital to offshore havens or ballooning trade deficits, and corporations and medium-sized businesses expanded. Yet, during the economic boom times, the unemployment rate for young black males was double — and in some parts of the country, triple — that of white males. Plentiful jobs did not wipe out the nagging racial gap in employment.

That’s the case now. Studies and surveys still show that young black males with no arrest records are far less likely to get a job than young white males with arrest records. The big problem with touting the real and inflated black unemployment drop is that Trump, the GOP can gleefully wave this around as yet another excuse to claim the black unemployment crisis is over. And, of course, that their giveaway tax policies to the wealthy and corporations, gutting business regulations, and the slash and burn of spending on job and education programs is the permanent antidote to black joblessness.

This will be Trump’s and the GOP’s mantra in the crucial 2018 mid-term elections. The counter must be, “Yes, more blacks may be working, but what type of jobs, and jobs for whom?” Worse, when the GOP’s wealth-gap-widening policies dump more blacks into the poverty ranks, even with a job, will Trump still be able to crow, “Look how much better you are under me?”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.