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Charts of the week: African-Americans and the economy

Editor's Note:

Communications intern Leah Korn contributed to this post.

In his State of the Union address in January, President Trump cited the historically low black unemployment rate as an indicator of America’s economic success and growth during his presidency. However, Brookings experts Marcus Casey and Bradley Hardy note that “the unemployment rate alone presents a revealing but incomplete picture of economic well-being within any community.” Below are some charts that provide a more holistic view on the status of black Americans’ current economic standing.

Black unemployment higher & labor force participation lower relative to whites and the overall population

As Casey and Hardy point out in their research, “Reduced unemployement doesn’t equal improved well-being for black Americans,” while the unemployment rate of black Americans has been steadily declining since a peak in early 2010, the figure (6.8 percent in the December 2017 jobs report, but rising again to 7.7 percent in January) remains higher than for white Americans, and the overall population; and the labor force participation rate remains lower for black workers relative to whites and the overall population.

The labor force participation rate from 2000-2017

LARGE DISPARITIES IN MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOMES PERSIST BETWEEN AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND THE REST OF AMERICA

Casey and Hardy also show that the median household income for a black family is still around $20,000 less than all other families in America. Although there is increased labor force participation in black communities, black Americans are still earning considerably less than their white counterparts.The median household income

MARYLAND, SOUTH FLORIDA, AND DALLAS HAVE HIGH RATES OF BLACK EMPLOYMENT

As expert Andre Perry shows in his research, cities with large black populations and a thriving black middle-class provide a large pool of workforce participants. This leads to economic growth in that city. Perry states that when African-Americans are given opportunities, their unemployment differentials exceed national averages.2018.02.01_Metro_Map1_Black employment

38.4 PERCENT OF THE BLACK WORKFORCE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. USES PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO GET TO WORK

Perry credits physical access to employment opportunities a significant factor when looking at employment rates. His research shows that on the national scale, majority black cities located on the East Coast such as Washington, D.C; Newark, NJ; Mount Vernon, NY; and Baltimore, Maryland have the highest populations of African-Americans using public transportation to get to work. Perry also notes a correlation between low unemployment rates and high public transportation usage rates.2018.02.01_Metro_Map2_Public transportation use

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