WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released a new survey of Black Americans’ priorities on the economy one year into the Biden-Harris administration. The poll, which spotlights the opinions and attitudes of Black Americans on pressing issues, finds that half of Black Americans are pessimistic about the direction of the country, particularly regarding the economy. In fact, 65 percent of respondents rated the state of the economy as just fair or poor, with 61 percent reporting their personal economic situations to be just fair or poor, as well.
The poll results come less than a week before President Joe Biden will deliver his first-ever State of the Union speech.
Three-quarters of poll respondents approved of the job President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are doing. Seven of 10 Black Americans have indicated that they plan to watch the speech and expect the president to address issues that are most important to them, including affordable healthcare, affordable housing, reducing poverty, creating more good-paying jobs, reducing inflation and the cost of living, increasing the minimum wage, and making college more affordable.
Additional topline findings from the survey show:
- Majority of Black Americans surveyed rate several other key economic issues as top priorities for President Biden, including several Build Back Better priorities, such as providing financial support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, making childcare more affordable, and expanding the Child Tax and Earned Income Tax credits.
- While 73 percent of Black Americans agree with forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt, slightly more — 76 percent — agree with forgiving all student loan debt.
- 81 percent of Black Americans surveyed believe it is the federal government’s responsibility to reduce the impact of racism and discrimination on Black Americans, and 51 percent currently disapprove of the job the federal government is doing on this matter.
- More than two-thirds of respondents consider it important for President Biden to prioritize appointing Black people to important government positions, supporting Black businesses, closing the gap between the rich and the poor, and providing Black Americans with better access to credit.
- Despite the president and vice president’s fair/positive approval ratings, Democrats in Congress fare slightly worse with an approval rating of 68 percent.
- Meanwhile, one-in-five Black Americans (21 percent) approve of the job Republicans are doing.
“The results of our poll paint a clear picture: the economy may be rebounding, but most Black Americans have yet to feel any actual signs of improvement,” said Jessica Fulton, vice president, Policy, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “As Black Americans continue to serve as a lifeline for the economic well-being of our nation – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – it is crucial that they are centered in our recovery. With more than half of poll respondents reporting a pessimistic outlook on their economic realities, we urge the president to use his upcoming State of the Union speech to proactively address the fundamental concerns of Black Americans across the country. President Biden must speak to key solutions that can help turn the tide.”
“As the State of the Union approaches, it is important for the Biden-Harris administration to hear the concerns coming from the Black community,” said Derrick Johnson, president, NAACP. “We urge the president to use his speech next week to speak to the economic issues plaguing Black Americans. Despite a divided Congress, there are solutions the president can enact through executive orders to address racial wealth disparities, namely canceling student loan debt and providing better pathways to home ownership. These remain two of the most essential building blocks to wealth creation.”
“The poll from the Joint Center reflects the old saying that when white America gets a cold, Black America catches pneumonia,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and executive director, Black Voters Matter. “The economic recovery our country is experiencing continues to escape many Black Americans. In order to mobilize Black voters, it is essential the president’s State of the Union speech speak directly to their issues, including poverty, health care, and job creation. How the president speaks to these matters will have a great impact on how groups like Black Voters Matter are able to mobilize Black voters during the upcoming midterm elections.”
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, provides compelling and actionable policy solutions to eradicate persistent and evolving barriers to the full freedom of Black people in America. We are the trusted forum for leading experts and scholars to participate in major public policy debates and promote ideas that advance Black communities. We use evidence-based research, analysis, convenings, and strategic communications to support Black communities and a network of allies.