By ROBYN H. JIMENEZ
The Dallas Examiner
The Biden administration announced on April 7, a record low unemployment rate across America, which included African Americans for the first time. The rate for Black workers fell to a record low and the gap between Black and overall unemployment shrank to the smallest it has been on record, according to the White House.
“This is a good jobs report for hard-working Americans,” President Joe Biden stated. “Today’s report shows that we continue to face economic challenges from a position of strength, with the economy adding 236,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate at 3.5%. My economic agenda has powered an historic economic recovery.
“We’ve created 12.6 million jobs since I took office. The unemployment rate is close to the lowest it has been in more than 50 years and a record low for African Americans. Thanks to the policies we have put in place, the recovery is creating good jobs that you can raise a family on, which is pulling more Americans into the labor force. In fact, the share of working age Americans in the labor force is at a 15-year high.”
The White House underscored that the president’s economic agenda is building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not the top-down.
Heather Boushey, an economist that serves on the White House Council of Economic Advisers, stated that the March job gains were widespread. She explained that many of the sectors hit hard during the COVID pandemic and have struggled to recover – such as leisure and hospitality, private education, health services and government – saw strong gains last month.
She acknowledged there were some job losses last month, but the gains outnumbered the losses.
“I want to focus on the fact that this actually was a historic report for a number of data points, which is we saw the lowest Black unemployment rate on record – a low of 5%,” Boushey explained. “We have only disaggregated the unemployment data by race since 1972. But that is certainly an accomplishment. And it is also the case that specifically for Black women – age 20 and over – they also saw a record low unemployment rate in March.
“I elevate those because one of the things that we know about labor markets is when the unemployment gets low and stays low, it means that all sorts of folks that may not see themselves in the labor force and may be sort of sitting on the sidelines or may not have the opportunity, don’t get those jobs. And what we are seeing now is folks are getting jobs and it’s widespread.”
With states like Texas eliminating diversity, equity and inclusion programs and incentives, which could impact the employment in underserved populations, Boushey pointed out that Biden has focused on racial equity as a core value of his administration. From day one, the president has displayed diversity as a priority through various metrics or the way he has changed how the government does business, especially for communities that are often left behind.
“I want to say the first thing is that one of the best things we can do is get the unemployment rate down and keep it down. And so getting as close as we can to a low unemployment economy is certainly going to help disadvantaged groups of workers. We see that time and time again in areas of low unemployment, more people get pulled into the labor force, then they get that job experience, and it creates that greater economic security moving forward,” she shared.
“The second thing is just to point to one example. You think about the CHIPS and Science Act, which is investing over $50 billion in CHIPS, meaning semiconductor manufacturing across the country. The Notice of Funding Opportunity made clear that this administration understands that diversity is important to productivity. It’s a strength, not a weakness. It encourages firms to take into account their talent pipelines, how they were affecting small businesses in their community, particularly businesses owned by folks who may historically not have as much opportunity.”
She said those were only a couple of examples of how the president and his administration has focused on making sure that the U.S. industries create more real opportunities for the African American community and other historically disadvantaged communities.
Several months ago, the Department of Labor raised the minimum wage for employees on federal contracts to $15 an hour. This also means that any business that receives a federal contract would need to pay their workers the increased wage for the extent to the contract.
As for the public sector, Boushey stated that the president was committed to continuing to push for a minimum wage increase across the nation.
“The president … talks a lot about how raising wages is really important, especially for those who have lost out as we’ve seen, now nearly half a century of rising economic inequality,” she said.
Biden touted additional gains in the job, such as regaining all the jobs lost during the pandemic, created 3 million additional jobs, and having more working-age Americans join the labor force and bringing labor employment back to where it was before the pandemic.
The president also made note that annual inflation has fallen over the last eight months.
“There is more work to do,” Biden declared. “My administration is working each day to lower costs for families and to make our economy even stronger, now and for the long term, with investments in infrastructure, innovation and clean energy. Just this week, because of my agenda, companies announced new manufacturing investments in Georgia, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin. My “Investing in America” agenda is building an economy that benefits hard-working Americans in every community across the country, not just those at the top.”