The road to low unemployment



At every opportunity, whether domestic or international, Donald J. Trump boasts that unemployment rates among Blacks, Hispanics and women are the lowest in history. He is right.

Let’s leave aside the question of how much unemployment rates are caused by the president currently in office, and how much they’re attributable to other factors; i.e., aggregate demand, global competition, the business cycle, education, automation, and demographics, etc. Many presidents like Donald Trump, wishing to take all the glory for themselves, have sounded like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise.

So, it’s instructive to take an in-depth look at how we actually got to the record numbers we enjoy today.

According to Donald Trump’s Bureau of Labor statistics, Black unemployment fell from 16% to 6.3% while Barack Obama was president, and from 6.3% to 6 % so far under Donald Trump.

Hispanic unemployment decreased from 17% to 7.9% while Obama was president and from 7.9% to 6% with Trump in the White House.

Women’s unemployment was reduced from 10.1% to 6.3% during Obama’s tenure and from 4.8% to 4.5 % since Trump took his oath of office.

The same pattern is true of overall unemployment: lowered from 9.9% to 4.1% under Obama and from 4.1% to 3.5% under Trump.

Regarding another statistic, the annual federal deficit dropped steadily under Obama from $1.06 trillion to $565 billion by the time he left office.

Two and one-half years into Trump’s tenure, we’re creating a $1 trillion-plus budget deficit as far as the eye can see.

Different folks will draw different conclusions from these statistics. Here are mine: Donald Trump promised to be the “King of Debt.”

He’s kept his promise. He didn’t lead an economic turn-around; Obama did…and Obama always credited the American people for it. Trump attributes whatever gains the country has achieved entirely to himself. Further, I think Trump’s taking credit for reaching record unemployment rates is like celebrating only the third stage of Saturn V rocket for reaching the moon.

That kind of braggadocio overlooks the contribution of not only the other stages, but all the additional human and technological factors that made that launch successful.

Using the same analogy, do you recall the message, “Houston, we have a problem?” Those chilling words were sent from the crew aboard the Saturn V-launched Apollo 13 spacecraft during a life-threatening emergency on one of its later journeys.

The astronauts survived, but never landed on the moon. Considering the emergence of some disquieting conditions on our horizon, we could realistically paraphrase those same words today regarding the stability of our nation’s employment and economic future.

My strongest hope generated by the above-referenced numbers is that all those now in office and those aspiring for office will take to heart the sage observation of President Harry S. Truman: “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)