Will You Be Better Off In Four More Years?

Now that President Clinton has won a second term, B.E.'s economists assess whether African Americans will cross the bridge to a more prosperous 21st century or get taken for a ride

on the Internet (http://ace-net.unh.edu/). These efforts, should prompt small business owners to be cautiously optimistic about the next four years.

While Clinton has already raised the minimum wage for those nearer the bottom rung of the economic ladder, perhaps the most promising news is the proposed education tax breaks. With additional schooling or technical training, those currently stuck in dead-end minimum wage jobs would be able to gradually make the transition to higher-paying skilled careers
.

Will you be better off in four more years? Only time will tell. But right now, the signs are encouraging enough and offer some promise that the year 2000 might be one to look forward to.

THE ECONOMIC FORECAST FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
Brimmer predicts a modestly improvedeconomic situation in ’97
Last year’s moderate but steady expansion in the country’s economic activity will enable blacks to improve their overall economic status in 1997. But African Americans will still suffer from significant deficits in both jobs and income, says Andrew F. Brimmer, chairman of the D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority. A former member of the Federal Reserve Board, he says that African Americans can expect modest improvements in the coming year.

“My main point is that jobs have been increasing, and blacks have shared in that on a macro level. That increase in jobs will translate into a growth in the African American share of money income,” Brimmer notes.

He also believes the economy will wind down slightly this year. While he anticipates that the gross domestic product will continue to grow overall, he predicts that the growth rate will be less than it was in ’96. The federal government is expected to be a continued drag on the economy this year but not as much as in previous years with defense spending shrinking less rapidly.

Specifically, Brimmer estimates that unemployment among blacks may average 10.5% this year, compared with 10. 6% last year. The unemployment rate for the total civilian labor force is projected at 5.4% and 4.7% for whites. If these projections play out, blacks would achieve a further modest improvement in their labor market status.

And what does this mean for Clinton, who touted the last four years as a period of economic recovery? “I think Clinton is right. He concentrated on reducing the deficit and lowering interest rates. Greater investment led to higher income. That’s the sequence, and he’s right.”

In 1994, Brimmer noted that the money income of African Americans amounted to $340 billion, representing 8% of the $4.3 trillion earned by all Americans, according to Census figures. If blacks had received their parity share, their total money income would have been $473 billion in 1994. The African American income level rose to $352 billion in 1995, representing 7.8% of a $4.5 trillion total.

The slower growth in employment in 1996 is estimated to have produced a moderate rise in income. It’s anticipated that total money income will have increased to $4.7 trillion in 1996; among African Americans, it’s estimated at $374 billion, or 7.9% of the total.
In 1997, total

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