Despite government data supporting Donald Trump’s claim that blacks are worse off under President Obama, the White House insisted Thursday that blacks have made progress under the first black president and that the Republican nominee would reverse those gains.
Mr. Trump’s pitch that black Americans have “nothing to lose” by voting for him is clearly irritating the White House, which tried but failed to muster much convincing evidence that life for blacks in America has improved much over the past eight years.
“I think you’d be very hard pressed to make the case that somehow the African-American population in the United States is somehow not better off,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
The black unemployment rate in July was 8.4 percent, compared with 12.6 percent when Mr. Obama took office in January 2009. But the jobless rate for whites, now at 4.3 percent, has fallen slightly more than it has for blacks in the past eight years — down 37 percent for whites and 33 percent for blacks.
On a range of other government data, blacks are faring worse under Mr. Obama. The black labor force participation rate has fallen from 63.2 percent in 2009 to 61.2 percent last month — down 3.1 percent.
Black home ownership last month was 41.7 percent, down from 46.1 percent in 2009 — a drop of nearly 10 percent.
The percentage of black Americans living below the poverty line has risen from 25.8 percent in 2009 to 26.2 percent in 2014, according to the most recent Census Bureau data. The number of black food-stamp participants spiked from 7.3 million to 11.7 million, an increase of 58 percent.
Confronted with such statistics, the White House said it’s important for Hillary Clinton to build on Mr. Obama’s legacy.
“The president’s never made the case that the work is finished, that the job is done,” Mr. Earnest said. “The point is, President Obama’s interested in being succeeded in office by someone who is committed to building on the progress we’ve made thus far as opposed to tearing it down.”