Van Jones on the racial unemployment gap

Van Jones' interview with Jay-Z caught the president's attention. But "Trump missed the whole point" Jay-Z was trying to make, Jones says. Jones and Brian Stelter discuss Trump's assertions about the black unemployment rate.

Posted: Jan 29, 2018 4:22 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2018 4:22 PM

President Donald Trump is taking credit for a decline in the African-American unemployment rate again, this time by taking aim at rapper and businessman Jay-Z following his comments on CNN Saturday night.

"Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!" Trump tweeted Sunday morning.

The latest unemployment rate for African-Americans is 6.8%, while the rate is 3.7% percent for white people. Both the African-American rate and the overall rate have declined steadily since 2010.

The President's tweet follows Jay-Z's remarks on the premiere of CNN's "The Van Jones Show," where the rapper addressed Trump.

Asked by Van Jones whether it's OK for Trump "to say terrible things but put money in our pockets" amid Trump's claims that unemployment for African-Americans has dropped, Jay-Z said no, "because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point.

"You treat people like human beings. That's the main point," he said. "It goes back to the whole thing -- 'treat me really bad and pay me well.' It's not going to lead to happiness, it's going to lead to, again, the same thing. Everyone's going to be sick."

On Sunday, Jones expanded on how the unemployment rate for African-Americans has been dropping since the Obama administration.

"And I gave Trump -- continuing a lot of trends that have been going on anyway, black unemployment is pretty good," Jones told CNN's Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources." "Should he get credit for it? Jay-Z said something you don't hear from many billionaires. He said, you know what? It's not about money. It's about the respect.

"I mean, he could have come in and done stuff that reversed that trend. He could have come in and done terrible things. And he didn't. So there was a bull market under Obama. He kept that going, maybe accelerated it. Unemployment was coming down. He kept that going. Great. But you're not listening to the voices of the black community who say that's not enough to make up for S-hole countries. That's not enough to make up for insulting black football players, saying all of our communities are terrible."

Scholars attribute the disparity in unemployment rates to a combination of factors: Hiring discrimination, lower educational attainment and a higher rate of people with criminal records, who are barred from many occupations.

RELATED: Black unemployment is at a record low. But there's a lot more to the story

There has been improvement over the years. In 1990, only 11.3% of African Americans had four-year college degrees, compared to 22% for whites, according to Census data. In 2017, those numbers had risen to 24% and 34.5%.

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