black unemployment rate

President Trump and his administration found several positives to tout from the newest round of employment numbers.

On Jan. 5, the day the new figures were released, the president’s daughter and White House official Ivanka Trump tweeted, “The unemployment rate for African Americans fell to 6.8 percent, the lowest ever recorded. We are working hard to bring this rate down even further.”

Trump himself repeated the talking point in his own tweet Jan. 8: “African American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded in our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate dropped a full point in the last year and is close to the lowest in recorded history. Dems did nothing for you but get your vote!  #NeverForget  @foxandfriends.”

How accurate is the president’s tweet? He’s right on the numbers.

Unemployment rates in the United States

In December 2017, African-American unemployment fell to 6.8 percent. That’s a record low since the statistic was first calculated in 1972. The previous record low was 7 percent in April 2000 and September 2017.

The Hispanic unemployment also dropped by a full percentage point, from 5.9 percent in December 2016 to 4.9 percent in December 2017.

As the president said, this is close to the data point’s all-time low, which was 4.8 percent in October and November 2017.

Did Democrats do “nothing” for black and Hispanic unemployment?

The tweet would have been accurate if Trump had stopped after the numbers. But his dig on the Democrats marred his talking point. The unemployment rate for both groups declined dramatically on President Barack Obama’s watch.

Black unemployment peaked at 16.6 percent in April 2010, when Obama was president. It then fell by more than half to 7.8 percent by the time Obama left office in January 2017.

Hispanic unemployment, meanwhile, peaked at 13 percent in August 2009, then fell to 5.9 percent at the end of Obama’s term in January 2017 — also a drop of more than half.

We should note that presidents don’t deserve either full credit or full blame for the unemployment rate on their watch. The president is not all-powerful on economic matters; broader factors, from the business cycle to changes in technology to demographic shifts, play major roles.

Our decree

Trump tweeted, “African American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded in our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate dropped a full point in the last year and is close to the lowest in recorded history. Dems did nothing for you but get your vote!”

He’s right about the low unemployment rates for both blacks and Hispanics today. But his slam that the Democrats “did nothing” in this regard is an exaggeration. Under Obama, the unemployment rate for both groups fell by more than half.

We rate his statement Mostly True.

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