February 8, 2024
White House Touts Black Business Gains, Historically Low Unemployment
Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Senior Advisor Stephen Benjamin discussed the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to boost Black America.
In a press call Wednesday morning, White House Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Senior Advisor and former Columbia, S.C. Gov. Stephen Benjamin discussed the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to boost Black businesses, Black unemployment, education, and more.
When President Joe Biden took office, Black unemployment skyrocketed as the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the economy. However, in the four years since, the Black unemployment rate has fallen to 5.3%, the lowest rate since the government began tracking it.
Adeyemo noted in the press call that provisions made by the Biden-Harris administration in the American Rescue Plan ensured communities of color got the support they needed to get through the pandemic and build a better economic future.
“As a result of the actions of the Biden administration, we’re witnessing the most equitable recovery in American history,” said Adeyemo. “There’s more to do, but the president’s agenda has led to significant economic gains for Black Americans; in particular, the unemployment rate for Black Americans peaked at 16.8% in May of 2020, meaning that 1 in 6 Black workers were unemployed. Driven by the resilience of Black America in the president’s economic agenda, unemployment rates for Black Americans recovered far more quickly than in past recessions.”
Additionally, the latest jobs report shows the share of Black Americans in the workforce is above pre-pandemic levels and near its highest level in two decades.
Adeyemo also noted earnings for typical full-time Black workers are up 7.1% since before the pandemic, higher than the rate of inflation, and real median Black wealth is up 60% since 2019.
During the call, Benjamin discussed how the administration has boosted small Black businesses and Black business owners, noting the Small Business Administration has surpassed the $1 billion mark in lending to Black-owned small businesses for the third year in a row, doubling that of fiscal year 2020.
Additionally, the Biden-Harris administration has expanded access to more than $700 billion in federal contracts to small businesses owned by individuals from underrepresented communities.
Adeyemo also discussed how the administration is fighting the attacks against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, especially in the technology and education fields, to ensure equitable opportunities for everyone.
“There’s about 70 DEI leaders from across the country on campus today speaking with our domestic policy council talking about the challenges of weathering attacks that they’re facing, and it’s my and our job to go up there today and really encourage them to do exactly what the president and vice president have asked them to do since day one,” said Adeyemo. “We’ll continue to fight the attacks but really making sure we continue to speak to the values in this country and the power of inclusion.”
Adeyemo added that companies with a diverse group of leaders and a diverse workforce yield better financial results.
The two men also cited other areas where Black Americans have made significant gains, including that two-thirds of new clean energy jobs are in communities of color, making sure Black Americans have equal access to home buying by cracking down on appraisal bias, cutting Black child poverty in half and lowering healthcare costs for Black Americans and fighting high prescription drug costs and not only making education more affordable for Black Americans but by canceling $137 billion in student debt and investing more than $7 billion in HBCUs.