Robert Johnson, the founder of BET and the nation’s first Black billionaire, gave Trump supporters something to crow about after he incorrectly credited the president for improving the job outlook for African Americans.
“When you look at African American unemployment, in over 50 years since the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been keeping the numbers, you’ve never had two things: African American unemployment this low and the spread between unemployment among whites and African Americans narrowing,” Johnson said Friday on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
That comment pleased President Donald Trump. Watching a Black man of Johnson’s influence praise Trump also warmed the hearts of right-wing conservative media. Outlets like Breitbart joyfully shared the Johnson’s remarks.
The BET founder, however, failed to note that the Black unemployment rate had declined steadily during President Barack Obama’s presidency. Indeed, economists have credited Obama’s financial recovery initiative from the historic recession for the declining unemployment.
In 2010 during the recession, the Black unemployment rate hit 16.8 percent, but it has continued to decrease falling to 7.8 percent when Trump took office. Johnson cited the December jobs report showing that unemployment among Black workers was at its lowest since the Labor Department began tracking the data in 1972. It fell to 6.9 percent, but it remains nearly double the white unemployment rate of 3.6 percent.
Johnson met with Trump in the weeks after the 2016 election when he was parading high-profile individuals under consideration for cabinet posts in front the media at his golf club in New Jersey. After that meeting, he urged African Americans to have an open mind about Trump.