rain
Saturday December 15th, 2018 4:34PM

In black neighborhoods, Trump's economic boasts ring hollow

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It's one of President Donald Trump's favorite talking points in promoting his administration's success: the record low rate of black unemployment. But on a recent sunny afternoon in Vernon Park in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood, that victory seemed hollow.

As children laughed on the playground, several black men — some out of work, others homeless — sat or slept on benches nearby. Similar scenes play out across America and are backed by data that counter the positive picture Trump often paints in campaign-style rallies before largely white audiences.

When asked what he makes of Trump's claim that black Americans are faring better under his administration, construction company owner and Germantown resident Carlton Washington replied, "Where at? Calabasas?"

The retort was a reference to controversial rapper Kanye West, who had lunch with Trump at the White House on Thursday afternoon. Over roasted chicken, fingerling potatoes and sauteed asparagus, the two discussed crime in Chicago, more possible presidential pardons, job creation and the black unemployment rate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black Americans in September was 6 percent. That's down from a high of 21.2 percent in January 1983, but is still nearly double the overall national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. The unemployment rate belies the on-the-ground reality for many African-Americans, according to experts.

"The rates are improving. There's a question of whether his policies created that improvement," said Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution, whose research focuses on black communities. "My question is: What kind of jobs are people working in?"

While black employment may have improved, that hasn't translated into broader economic gains.

That's partly because African-Americans are still disproportionately toiling in lower-quality jobs. Black people make up roughly one-fifth of those working in temporary jobs, a figure that hasn't changed much in the past five years, even as the economy has improved. Just 12 percent of all Americans are black.

And last year, Trump's first in office, the income gap between whites and blacks widened slightly. The typical African-American household earned $40,258, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier, while white households saw an income gain of 2.6 percent, to $68,145.

The racial wealth gap has also worsened even as unemployment rates have come down. The median net worth of a white household was 10 times that of a black household in 2016, the latest data available. That's up from seven times in 2004.

Perry noted that the national unemployment rate doesn't take into account underperforming geographic regions or demographic groups.

"What does full employment mean to a black man in Baltimore? To youth in Chicago?" Perry said. "What are you doing to bring opportunities to black neighborhoods, to create wealth? I don't see those signs of the economy."

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, whose district includes Germantown, remembers shopping with her family as a child along the neighborhood's then-main economic corridor, where residents could buy food, get their hair done and find a pair of sneakers or a new outfit all within a few blocks during the 1970s and 1980s.

The area is much different today, with less activity and fewer businesses and the jobs that came with them.

"I don't know what he's claiming credit for," said Bass, looking toward Germantown and Chelten avenues. "His numbers are fake news, as far as I'm concerned."

Bass said Trump's continued assertion that black America is recovering is an insult.

"People are struggling, and to not give any sort of recognition of that, and to say that everything's OK, everybody's working, everybody's doing well, is just not true. When you look at our communities, you see something completely different. When was the last time he's been to any neighborhood that is even similar to a Germantown?"

In Germantown, a neighborhood that is 80 percent black, the median income is $28,046, less than half the national average, according to the census. The poverty rate is 34 percent, nearly three times the national rate of 12.7 percent. More than 20 percent of residents make less than $10,000, and 60 percent of families live on less than $50,000.

That number obscures those who have dropped out of the labor market, who are doing cash-only jobs or who have gone underground. Carlton Washington sees many of them in his business and teen mentoring program.

The 36-year-old lifelong Philadelphian learned construction from his mentor and tries to help those he can. In addition to his regular crew of about 10 workers, he has a list of about 50 unemployed or underemployed men who could help out at job sites.

"If they're not available, I just go throughout the neighborhood and try to find guys to put a little money in their pocket for the day," Washington said, adding that a day's work might earn $50 to $60 for tasks ranging from demolition to more skilled labor like electrical work, plumbing or carpentry.

"It's not much . by the time you drive to the job site and get back, that's probably spent on a couple of groceries for dinner that night and gas," Washington said. "All of them have families, are married, have multiple children. As much as you want to help them, it's really no help."

Washington said he would like to see Trump visit a neighborhood like his the next time he holds a rally in a state with a major city, to see what he sees on the ground, every day.

"Sitting in this park, we're talking about the middle of the day, and about 20 people are sitting here unemployed, drinking, drowning their misery," Washington said. "He's not coming to these areas, so to even speak on the black unemployment rate . it's almost like an NFL player speaking on something going on in baseball. You don't play baseball."

___

Associated Press Economics Writer Chris Rugaber contributed to this report.

___

Whack is The Associated Press' national writer on race and ethnicity. Follow her work on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/emarvelous

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
In black neighborhoods, Trump's economic boasts ring hollow
The record low rate of black unemployment is one of President Donald Trump's favorite talking points, but that hasn't translated into broader economic gains.
6:12PM ( 6 minutes ago )
'Greedy' young mayor stole from investors, feds say
A 26-year-old Massachusetts mayor is charged with using money from his company's investors to bankroll a lavish lifestyle and advance his political career
6:05PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Bosnian Croat nationalists protest election of moderate
Several thousand Bosnian Croat nationalists have protested the election victory of a moderate politician last weekend in the race for the Croat seat in Bosnia's three-person presidency
6:03PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump defends Saudi arms sales amid fury over missing writer
President Donald Trump defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia on Thursday as lawmakers increased pressure on his administration to punish the kingdom over the disappearance of a journalist
5:23PM ( 56 minutes ago )
US asks Central America to do more on illegal immigration
Vice President Mike Pence is asking the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to do more to stem the flow of illegal immigrants
4:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
Kanye West, in 'MAGA' hat, delivers surreal Oval Office show
Kanye West, in 'MAGA' hat, delivers surreal Oval Office show
4:29PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
'Heavenly Bodies' sets heavenly record at Met Museum
'Heavenly Bodies,' the recent fashion exhibit on Catholicism at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has become its highest attended exhibit, beating out the 1978 King Tut show.
5:36PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Kaepernick, Chappelle getting Harvard black culture awards
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and comedian Dave Chappelle are among eight people being saluted by Harvard University for their contributions to black history and culture
5:26PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Fox News cutting back on Trump rally coverage
Fox News Channel has pulled back from covering the entirety of President Donald Trump's campaign rallies
3:36PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
The Latest: Trump 'open-minded' on stop-and-frisk policing
President Donald Trump says he's "open-minded" about stop-and-frisk policing
1:16PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump welcomes Kanye West to the Oval Office
President Donald Trump Donald has welcomed Kanye West to the White House, and says the rapper "has been a friend for a long time."
1:08PM ( 5 hours ago )
Country women applaud CMT for all-female awards show
Country's biggest stars are applauding CMT for honoring all-female artists at their Artists of the Year awards show
10:41AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Recordings News
The Latest: Michael brings flooding in North Carolina
As Tropical Storm Michael rolls across North Carolina, it's continuing to produce life-threatening flash flooding and powerful winds
5:32PM ( 47 minutes ago )
The Latest: 390,000 power outages reported in North Carolina
North Carolina's electric utilities reported over 390,000 outages at 5 p.m., as a weakened but still formidable Michael gusted through the state
5:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stocks plunge again on wide selling; Dow drops another 545
U.S. stocks tumble for the second consecutive day as the market's recent downturn gets worse
4:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Stocks plunge again on wide selling; Dow down as much as 698
U.S. stocks are falling in erratic trading a day after their biggest drop since February
3:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
Markets Right Now: US stocks tumble for second day
US stocks are falling again a day after their biggest drop since February.
2:57PM ( 3 hours ago )
Italy's PM visits Ethiopia and then Eritrea to support peace
Italy's PM visits Ethiopia and then Eritrea to support peace deal, praise sweeping reforms
2:45PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
'Greedy' young mayor stole from investors, feds say
A 26-year-old Massachusetts mayor is charged with using money from his company's investors to bankroll a lavish lifestyle and advance his political career
6:05PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Bosnian Croat nationalists protest election of moderate
Several thousand Bosnian Croat nationalists have protested the election victory of a moderate politician last weekend in the race for the Croat seat in Bosnia's three-person presidency
6:03PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation
Images trickle out of Michael's vast devastation
6:03PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Coogler to return as writer-director of 'Black Panther 2'
Ryan Coogler isn't leaving Wakanda: The filmmaker will write and direct the sequel to 'Black Panther.'
5:52PM ( 28 minutes ago )
GOP, home to Trump and Tea Party, decries Dems' mob rule
President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans say Democrats are using 'mob rule' and radical tactics and warning GOP voters that things may only get worse
5:49PM ( 30 minutes ago )