Money Monday: Has President Obama Done Enough To Address Black Unemployment?

BY: - 18 Jul '11 | Home

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The Chicago Sun-Times captured the state of Black America with its recent headline, “The Disappearing Black Middle Class.” At 16.2%, the unemployment rate for Black Americans under Obama has reached historic levels.

As the old saying goes, when America catches the cold, Black America catches pneumonia.

“Some see a bitter irony in soaring black unemployment and the decline of the black middle class on the watch of the first black president,” the Sun-Times pointed out.

With such economic devastation in the Black community, it’s no wonder many Obama supporters are less than pleased with the president’s performance. Once staunch advocates have turned into rabid critics.

“A black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” is how Princeton professor Cornel West described President Obama.

Admittedly, Dr. West’s comments may have been over the top, but even the Congressional Black Caucus has accused the president of failing to adequately address the epidemic of Black unemployment. And everyone from media pundits to rap artists has weighed in. Jay-Z, for instance, claimed criticism of the president’s economic performance was “fair.”

Critics point to a laundry list of presidential missteps. They argue the president has not stood up to Republican efforts to kill jobs at every turn, that he’s continued Bush-era tax cuts for the ultra-rich, and that he pressed for a stimulus package that was short on money for economic stimulus and heavy on Republican-inspired tax cuts.

Others point to the fact that Wall Street received massive tax payer bailouts, but not one Wall Street executive was prosecuted under Obama’s watch, all but guaranteeing they’ll continue the same types of activities that brought the nation to its knees.

But, it’s easy to be a critic.

How quickly we forget that at the end of the Bush presidency the nation was losing nearly 700,000 jobs a month. In contrast, under President Obama, nearly 125,000 jobs per month were created in the first half of 2011.

And President Obama has accomplished this while working with members of Congress who have made their primary goal “to make Mr. Obama a one-term president.”

In our “what have you done for me lately” culture, it’s easy to overlook the fact that Mr. Obama single-handedly saved the American auto industry from extinction, a move that saved more than a million jobs. And while the nation suffers 9% unemployment, most economists agree that the president’s swift actions prevented America from slipping into a second Great Depression.

Yes, it’s quite easy to be bash the president’s economic polices when you’re not standing in Great Depression-type soup lines.

BMWK, what’s your take? Has President Obama done enough to address Black unemployment? Do you think he’s selling out to corporate interests, or is he simply the victim of a Congress desperate to see him fail?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 298 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.


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4 WordPress comments on “Money Monday: Has President Obama Done Enough To Address Black Unemployment?

  1. JBudd

    If more people (black and others) spent more time asking whether they have done enough for themselves in regards to being unemployed, and less time blaming all of their financial failures, or missteps on a Government official, the recession would have ended months earlier. Today’s unemployed American has less innovation to find new work, and even lesser motivation to create work for him or herself. I vote that Black Americans stop blaming Obama or Bush, and spend time (and resources) creating jobs for themselves and others in their community. Gone are the days when you should ever assume that your family’s financial future will rise or fall based on who is living in the White House.

    1. Alonzo


      Very valid comments. I agree. I think it’s important that we take responsibility for our own actions and economic well being.

      As the quote goes, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

      But I also think the government plays a role in creating an environment for individuals to thrive by making sure affordable health care is available for all, that the middle class isn’t burned with a disproportionate amount of the tax burden, and that quality education becomes a right for all.  

  2. Roger Madison

    I like your balanced assessment of the efforts of President Obama.   The reality is that the President of the USA has to prioritize his actions: Save the nation from depression, stabilize financial markets, stimulate economic growth, provide a social safety net — FOR EVERYONE.   He has to do this in the face of the most stubborn opposition that I have observed in my lifetime.   He couldn’t even get unified Democratic support for the stimulus, the Affordable Health Care Act, or many other initiatives that were put forward in his first 2 years.

    It is also a reality that Blacks suffer disproportionately in a downturn, and prosper disproportionately less during a recovery.   If we are going to charge a politician with responsibility for solving some of our problems, then the maxim that ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL applies.   The solutions we seek must be supported by local political grassroots efforts and work upward.   If we allow Republican right wing extremists to capture our local city councils, our state legislatures, and send Tea Party right wing nuts to congress, how can we expect our President address Black employment at the local level?  

    Employment is where the rubber meets the road.   The President cannot mandate employers to hire Black workers amid widespread suffering.   He saved the auto industry. He focused the stimulus on saving local public sector jobs for teachers, police and fire fighters.   He has provided incentives for private sector job growth — all in the face of opposition that sings a chorus growing louder and louder — CUT SPENDING!!!

    We can help the President by electing local and state offficials that support our ppositions, who also can support Presidential initiatives to provide greater help for Black unemployment.   This is a bottoms up challenge.   We must form a “coalition of the suffering” to elect candidates who will address our problems.   We would do ourselves more harm to dump this on the shoulders of the President alone.

  3. Alonzo

    Mr. Madison,

    Very insightful comments as usual. I totally agree that the President can not bear the burden by himself. As you stated we must get involved in politics on the local and state level. Just look at what happened in Wisconsin were voter apathy led to a Governor and state legislature which gutted public workers’ rights, slashed the budget for school districts, all while giving tax relief to business.  

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