Has Obama Failed Black Americans on Jobs?

President Barack Obama (Joshua Roberts/Rueters)
President Barack Obama (Joshua Roberts/Rueters)

(The Root) — After a dismal showing in March, when fewer than 90,000 jobs were reported created, the April jobs report is being billed as a comeback of sorts for the U.S. economy: There were 165,000 jobs added, while unemployment fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest rate since December 2008, just after the economic collapse. Other good news from this month's report: a revision of previous reports. Though it was previously reported that only 88,000 jobs had been added in March, it is now being reported that 138,000 jobs were actually added.


But in disturbing news, the unemployment rate for African Americans remains at 13.2 percent. Reports from March indicate that more than half of African-American men without a high school diploma are unemployed. Yet the nationwide rate for those without high school diplomas is just 11.6 percent.

Last year, in an interview with The Root, as black unemployment hovered near the 14 percent mark, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), then chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that black Americans were giving President Obama a "pass" on poor handling of unemployment within the community. "Well, I'm supposed to say he doesn't get a pass, but I'm not going to say that," he said. "Look, as the chair of the Black Caucus, I've got to tell you, we are always hesitant to criticize the president. With 14 percent [black] unemployment (pdf), if we had a white president, we'd be marching around the White House."

But as the negative effects of the economy on black Americans linger longer than for any other group, it remains to be seen how much longer black Americans will feel inclined to give the president a pass or continue to be patient and supportive of his economic policies. 

Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter