Raw Data: The Black-White Unemployment Gap

Just in case you’re interested in the reality-vs-fantasy quotient of Donald Trump’s latest claim that he’s been great for black unemployment—and I admit there’s no reason you should be—here’s the gap between the black and white unemployment rates:

It’s been falling ever since the end of the Great Recession, and nothing much changed when Trump became president. It’s fallen a little bit more since his inauguration, but that’s all.

On the bright side, this really is the lowest the gap has been since BLS started keeping records by race in 1972. In fact, the long-term trend is kind of interesting:

Ever since the end of the Reagan recession, the black-white unemployment gap has been on a pretty steady downward path that’s interrupted like clockwork by every recession. When times are bad, blacks are laid off at higher rates than whites, and only after the economy has started expanding do blacks make up their losses. The good news is that during economic expansions, the gap has been in the 4-5 percent range for the past two decades. The bad news is that the gap has been in the 4-5 percent range for the past two decades.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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