“I think we’re going to get the African American vote.”
That was U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in support of Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections in Lebanon, Ohio on Friday.
It came one day after Trump met with Kanye West at the White House — an encounter he described as “amazing.”
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Trump was confident of winning that vote because of what he called the “best numbers in history, on employment and unemployment and median income and many other things.”
He was talking about positive economic returns for the U.S., which include GDP growth of 4.2 per cent in the second quarter and a 3.7 per cent unemployment rate, the lowest it has been in 10 years.
He has also cited a historically low unemployment rate for black people, which stood at six per cent in September, down from seven per cent a year earlier but mostly unchanged from the two previous months.
Trump has repeatedly highlighted such statistics, particularly in his State of the Union address in January.
But as Vox noted at the time of that speech, the president shouldn’t take any credit for them.
The current black unemployment rate is just the latest stat in a trend that began in March 2010, when the rate hit 16.8 per cent.
It had been growing to that point since February 2008, much as the general unemployment rate did at the time.
However, both the black and the general unemployment rates have fallen to decade-long lows since then.
But it’s not necessarily anything to do with what Trump has done in office.
As Louisiana Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond noted in January, “black unemployment has been on the decline since 2011, and it’s declined in other years more than in Trump’s one year.”
The black unemployment rate is also nearly double what it is for white people (3.3 per cent), and higher than it is for Asians (3.5 per cent) and Hispanics (4.5 per cent).
In other words, the rate may be falling in lockstep with general employment trends, but the rate remains higher for blacks than other ethnicities.
Trump didn’t just talk about numbers, however.
He also touted his meeting with recording artist Kanye West at the White House on Thursday.
Trump said of the meeting, “Kanye West, what he did was pretty amazing yesterday, pretty amazing.”
Wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, West went on a 10-minute rant in which he said the cap made him “feel like Superman,” that he felt like he was part of something when it was on his head.
“Let’s stop worrying about the future, all we have is today,” he said.
“Trump is on his hero’s journey right now. He might not have thought he’d have a crazy motherf**ker like (me).”