Black Unemployment Rate Reaches 7.7% in January 2018, Shattering Trump’s Claims

Trump and Black Unemployment Rate
Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images

According to U.S. employment statistics by race, the black unemployment rate increased from 6.8% to 7.7% in January 2018. On the other hand, for white people, the unemployment rate dropped in January 2018 from 3.7% to 3.5%. President Donald Trump has credited his administration for the drop in the black unemployment rate in December 2107, but he has refrained from blaming himself for the rise in the black unemployment rate in January 2018.

Experts are of the opinion that Trump isn’t responsible for either change, pointing out that the U.S. unemployment rate for black people has been steadily dropping since the recession-period high of 16.8% in March 2010. The U.S. unemployment rate for black people fluctuates more than the unemployment rate for white people, because their population is smaller.

It could be suggested that black people who weren’t searching for jobs in December heard about the low unemployment rate and decided to start their job search in January. But this can’t be true, since the black workforce participation rate, which measures the percentage of people who either have a job or who are searching, dropped slightly from 62.1% to 62% for the first time in four years.

Trump Boasted of Black Unemployment Rate in December 2017

In his recent State of the Union address, Trump credited his administration’s policies for improvement in the black unemployment rate, saying, “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”


Even though the black unemployment rate of 6.8% in December 2017 was the lowest since 1972 (when the data started getting collected), crediting Trump’s policies for the improvement is unwarranted. Since March 2010, the unemployment rate for black people in the U.S. has been steadily declining. The rate had already decreased nine points since Trump entered office in January 2017. Later, it dropped by one point, keeping up the ongoing trend.

It has been a similar case with the Hispanic/Latino unemployment rate, which was 4.9% in December 2017—the lowest it has been recorded at—and five percent in January 2018. In March 2010, the rate was 12.9% and, since then, it has been declining. The unemployment rate of Hispanics in the U.S. went down by one point in the first year of Trump’s administration.

The overall U.S. unemployment rate was 4.1 % in December 2017 and in January 2018. Both the black and Hispanic/Latino unemployment rates were still higher than this.

Recently, the rapper Jay-Z criticized Trump on CNN’s The Van Jones Show for taking credit for the reduction in black unemployment. The following tweet by Trump was in response to this criticism.

The issue of the black unemployment rate in January 2018—and the U.S. unemployment rate in general—is very complex, since as it depends on many factors, of which the country’s administration is just one. A single person or an administration can contribute to an economic improvement (or decline), but they can’t be credited for all of it.


Black unemployment rate jumps after Trump touted record low,” CNN, February 2, 2018.

Employment Situation Summary,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2, 2018.

Trump Took Credit for the ‘Lowest Rate Ever Recorded’ of African-American Unemployment. The Reality Is More Complex,” Fortune, January 31, 2018.