On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence used Frederick Douglass‘ 200th birthday to claim that Black unemployment is at a record low.
“African-American unemployment — as we sit here on Frederick Douglass’s 200th bicentennial of his birth — African-American unemployment is at the lowest level ever recorded in American history,” Pence said at an Axios event.
But while that might have been true back in December, when the unemployment rate was at a record low of 6.8 percent, it’s no longer the case. The Black unemployment rate spiked to 7.7 percent January. So that record low is no longer something the administration can claim as their own.
And while Fortune noted that White House officials are saying they are monitoring the situation to see if it’s the start of a downhill trend or just a temporary spike, the administration is still trying to get Black people on its side by touting the record low from earlier.
In fact, on Tuesday, President Donald Trump used those same statistics during a Black History Month event.
“It was just announced, and perhaps you heard me say it, we had the lowest African-American unemployment rate in the history of our country,” Trump said. “Lowest in the history of our country. So we are very, very proud of that.”
We’re not buying it
But here’s the thing, the Trump administration can’t exactly take credit for the decline in Black unemployment when it started with the Obama administration.
The Black unemployment rate peaked in 2010 at 16.8 percent and was down to 7.8 percent in January 2017, when Barack Obama was still the president. That means the previous president saw the Black unemployment rate cut in half under his tenure.
But more than that, the administration can’t win over Black people with unemployment numbers when the rest of their actions belie racist undertones. From calling Mexicans rapists to referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries,” the constant stream of racist incidents can not be erased by one unemployment number.
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