President Biden says America is “on the move.” Really? Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
President Biden celebrated the new jobs numbers, with the creation of 559,000 new jobs in May, pushing overall unemployment to 5.8%.
“America is finally on the move again,” Biden said, during a brief White House speech today. “We are gonna hit some bumps along the way, of course that will happen.”
A more accurate assessment would be “some of America” is on the move again not “America” President Biden. Unless we don’t count African Americans as full citizens of the United States.
A breakdown of the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a better picture. Unemployment for European Americans stands at only 5.1%. On the other hand unemployment for African Americans are four percentage points higher, at 9.1%, the highest of any community in the United States. Unemployment for Hispanics stands at 7.3% and for Asians 5.5%.
Biden has set a new tone when it comes to race matters, racial bias and discrimination in the United States. He has denounced police brutality and publicly embraced the family of police murder victim George Floyd and even met with them in the White House. He has made several statements pushing for the policing reform bill.
And, Biden’s proposed infrastructure spending will create tens of thousands of jobs, and this potentially benefit African Americans as well.
But this won’t happen unless there is a public recognition that historically the unemployment rate in African American communities has always exceeded that in the European American community—sometimes by or almost double.
This rigid structural bias has existed as far back as 1963, almost 60 years ago, when at that time white unemployment was 6.6% while Black unemployment stood at 12.6%.
We can randomly pick out any year over the years and the structural bias is evident.
In 2010, when European American unemployment was at 8.7% while that of African Americans was 16%. In 2000, white unemployment was 3.5% and for Black people 7.6%; in 1990, 4.8% for whites and 11.4% for Black people; and in 1980, 6.3% for 14.3%.
So it’s clearly wrong for President Biden to claim “America is finally on the move again,” unless African Americans somehow benefit by watching unemployment rates improve for all other groups as a consistently higher rate compared to theirs.
Hopefully Biden will take note of this and promise to make this structural bias a focus, just as he declared war on the pandemic and delivered on that promise.
It’s time for a U.S. President to declare war on the structural bias in Black unemployment.