President Donald Trump greets Robert Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television at Trump International Golf Club in November 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Johnson praised the positive impact of Trump's presidency on black unemployment rates. (2016 file photo/Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Robert Johnson, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and the first black billionaire in the U.S., said “something is going right” with the economy for black Americans during President Donald Trump’s presidency.
Johnson addressed the Trump-era economy during an interview Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
What did he say?
An excerpt of Johnson's comments:
“You have to take encouragement from what’s happening in the labor force and the job market. 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.
“That absolutely means the job market is soliciting employees who have been out of the labor force, some of it just based on discrimination, some of it based on changes in education, access and technology changes. And so when you look at that, you have to say something is going right.”
Who gets the credit?
The black unemployment rate has declined since Trump took office in January 2017, but some economists note that the improvement is just a continuation from the Obama era.
The black unemployment rate peaked at 16.8 percent in March 2010, and had dropped to 7.8 percent at the time of Trump's inauguration.
“Most of the programmatic work was set into motion before the last administration was leaving,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington bureau of the NAACP, according to The Washington Post.
In December 2017, black unemployment hit a record low of 6.8 percent, went up to 7.7 in January, and held at 6.9 percent in February and March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What is Johnson’s history with Trump?
Johnson and Trump have had a good relationship for years, and Johnson said Trump offered him a cabinet position in November 2016, which Johnson said he turned down.
“He hinted at something I could be interested in, and I quickly shut that down,” Johnson told CNBC at the time. “But I can’t work for the government…because to me, as an entrepreneur, trying to work in a government structure where you got to get through 15 different layers of decision-making to get what you want done, doesn’t fit my mold.”
The position wasn’t a formal offer, and Johnson did not clarify specifically what the job would have been.
(H/T The Washington Post)
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