Congressional Black Caucus members sat on their butts and refused to applaud when President Trump announced the record low unemployment rates in America today. Members didn’t clap. They didn’t emote. They sat there and gave Trump a blank stare.
“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history,” Trump said at the top of his State of the Union speech, while listing the accomplishments of his administration during his first year of his presidency.
Numerically, Trump’s claim about the current African-American unemployment rate is true: In December 2017, it was 6.8 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is the lowest unemployment rate since 1972, the earliest date for which the BLS provides data.
But members of the Congressional Black Caucus, dressed in kente clothe, appeared unmoved, blankly staring at President Trump instead of clapping.
Why did they react that way?
The CBC does not give Trump credit for the low unemployment rate, as it made clear with a tweet before the speech Tuesday:
“The black unemployment rate fell from 16.5% to 7.8% from January 2011-January 2017. Now it’s 6.8%. Thank President Obama — Not @realDonaldTrump. #ThanksObama #AYearofTrump”
During his campaign, Trump ran as a jobs creator — for all Americans. Overall, the US unemployment rate fell to 4.1 per cent in December, the lowest level since December of 2000.
For whites, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 per cent in December, and for Hispanics it rose slightly to 4.9 per cent.Only 8 per cent of black voters supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election, with the demographic swinging heavily toward Democrat Hillary Clinton by an 80-point margin.
During the campaign, Trump’s much-commented upon pitch to black voters was ‘What the hell do you have to loose?’, blaming the Democratic Party for taking their votes for granted with little in return.