While President Barack Obama celebrated Labor Day with his G-20 colleagues in China, black Americans were left to ponder why they are economically worse off than when he first took office.
Obama’s Labor Day message claimed, “In the last several years, we have pulled our country back from the brink, through a series of tough economic decisions.” What he meant by “tough economic decisions” was cranking up deficit spending that will roughly double the national debt to $21 trillion, and quintuple the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion by the time he leaves office in January.
All Americans have suffered during the Obama years, but it has been black Americans that have economically gone into reverse. As NPR’s Travis Smiley told a Huffington Post Live podcast with Alyona Minkovski, “Sadly — and it pains me to say this — over the last decade, black folk, in the era of Obama, have lost ground in every major economic category.”
The Obama administration trumpets that since he was sworn in on January 20, 2009, black Americans are better off with their overall unemployment down 40 percent from 12.7 percent to 7.6 percent. The black teen (ages 16 to 19) unemployment rate is also down 26 percent from 35.3 percent to 26.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the reason black unemployment statistics show a downtrend trend is the labor force participation rate for black Americans has slipped from 63.2 percent to 61.7 percent — down 2.4 percent. The last time before Obama took office that black labor force participation was that low was May 1984, over 32 years ago.
During the low economic growth during the Obama years, annual wage growth for all Americans averaged 2.3 percent. But after subtracting the 1.9 percent average increase in inflation as measured by the rise of the consumer price index, the net “real” annual wage growth was a paltry 0.4 percent annually.
And the “real” median income among for black American households during the Obama years actually sank from $35,954 to $35,398, according to the Census Bureau. That means black Americans suffered a negative annual wage growth rate of -.2 percent.
With black Americans’ labor force participation and wages riding the down escalator, the number of black Americans on food stamps has exploded during the Obama years, from 7,393,000 to 11,699,000 — up 58.2 percent — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Since Obama’s oath of office through the end of 2015, the percentage of black Americans who own homes also shriveled from 46.1 percent to 41.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census — a 9.1 percent plunge.
Obama promised in his November 2011 “President’s Agenda and the African American Community” that through the greatest peacetime government intervention and domination of the U.S. economy, he would “provide hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults with opportunities to work and to achieve needed training in growth industries.”
But black Americans seem to have experienced during the Obama years what Nobel Prize laureate Milton Friedman famously warned about:
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”