By Freddie Allen (Managing Editor, NNPA Newswire)
The Black unemployment rate continued to improve falling from 7.8 percent in December to 7.7 percent in January, according to the latest jobs report from the Labor Department.
The labor force participation rate for Blacks, which is the share of workers who are employed or looking for jobs, increased from 61.8 percent in December to 62.4 percent in January. The employment-population ratio (E-POP), the share of people who hold jobs compared to the total population, edged up from 57 percent in December to 57.5 percent last month. Compared to December, more Blacks entered the job market and found work in January.
The economy added 227,000 jobs in January. Retail trade, construction, and financial activities saw the greatest gains in jobs, the report said.
Even though much of the data was collected before President Donald Trump took office, Trump Administration officials were quick to take credit for the solid jobs report.
“That the Trump administration has only been in office since January 20th did not stop Press Secretary Sean Spicer from telling reporters [at a recent press briefing] that the report ‘reflects the consumer confidence that the Trump presidency has inspired,’” CBS News reported.
Spicer added: “While the president’s definitely pleased that the job growth has far surpassed expectations and the that labor force participation is rising, he also recognizes that there’s a lot more work to be done.”
President Trump credited the increase in jobs to “a great spirit for the country right now,” according to CBS News.
Economist Kate Bahn of the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans, said that the most recent jobs report was, “the final release of data that reflects how the labor market fared under President Barack Obama, with 227,000 jobs added—near the average for the past two years.”
Bahn continued: “The labor market has had 76 months of consistent job growth under Obama administration policies that expanded labor market opportunities to more people. The world will be watching closely in the coming months to see how the labor market responds to the drastic new policies under President Donald Trump.”
Bahn called the recent executive order that banned travel from seven majority-Muslim countries “dramatic and ill-conceived.”
A three judge federal court upheld the temporary stay ruling that, “a Seattle federal judge’s earlier restraining order on the new policy should remain in effect while the judge further examines its legality,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“An adequate supply of workers at all skill levels—through immigration—is crucial to long-term economic growth, particularly as native-born Baby Boomers leave the workforce in ever-increasing numbers,” said Bahn in the statement.
Bahn also expressed concerns about and the lack of “a respected economist to lead the Council of Economic Advisers,” adding that it could only makes things worse.
The White unemployment rate was unchanged from December 2016, holding steady at 4.3 percent. The E-POP and the labor force participation rate also ticked up in the right direction.
The unemployment rate for White women over 20 years-old edged up from 3.8 percent in December to 3.9 percent in January. The labor force participation rate for White women hasn’t changed since November. The jobless rate for Black women over 20 years-old moved in the right direction, falling from 6.8 percent to 6.7 percent in January. The labor force participation rate for Black women increased from 62.3 percent in December to 62.6 percent last month.
Both the White and Black male worker groups experienced gains in labor force participation and the employment-population ratio (E-POP) in January. The unemployment rate also improved for both groups.
On the eve of the release of the January’s jobs report, Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) Democrats on the Committee on Education and the Workforce sent President Trump a letter urging him to “continue the longstanding and bipartisan tradition of standing behind the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly employment situation report,” according to a statement.
“We believe our inquiry is warranted because of the apparent skepticism and distrust of the nation’s unemployment rate expressed by you and your White House staff,” the letter said. “In the first few days of your presidency, the White House press secretary reportedly refused to cite the official unemployment rate when directly asked to do so by a reporter. This comes after a presidential campaign where you falsely characterized the unemployment rate as ‘one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics.’”
The letter concluded: “We look forward to working with you to build on the significant job gains and economic progress that were achieved during the Obama presidency. We also stand ready to work with you to restore balance to the economy so that hardworking Americans can get ahead and provide a better future for their families.”