For weeks, Donald Trump has been touting a specific statistic. In tweets, the State of the Union, and at the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, he bragged that the black unemployment rate in the US is the “lowest ever recorded.”
In December, the unemployment rate for African Americans fell to an historic low of 6.8%. The latest data for January, published today, showed the rate jumping to 7.7%.
As the Economic Policy Institute notes, this data can be volatile because of a small sample size used to derive it. And still, black unemployment consistently remains about double the rate of the white unemployment (3.5% in January).
What’s more, the historically low jobless rate ignores an important factor when measuring employment among black people: incarceration. The US government’s employment statistics do not include people who are in prison; in the US, a disproportionately large number of prisoners are black. According to the Washington Post, if incarcerated people were included in the unemployment rate for men in 2014, the unemployment rate for black men would have risen from 11.4% to 18.6%, but only increased from 5% to 6.4% for white men.