By Emily Peck

November 8, 2020

Let’s Start With Race

The economic picture for white people in this downturn, particularly white men, is a lot better than it is for any other group, said Olugbenga Ajilore, an economist at the Center for American Progress.

This relative superiority of status is likely key to understanding how Trump voters, a majority of whom are white, can think the economy is in decent shape.

The Black unemployment rate in October was 10.8%. For Black men, it was 11.5%, not that far off from the sky-high overall unemployment rate of 14.7% in April. (Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for white men now, 5.8%, is just about half what it is for Black men.) Black and Hispanic women are also facing high unemployment numbers.

This recovery for white men is one reason Congress hasn’t enacted another stimulus package, Ajilore said. High rates of Black unemployment simply are not viewed as a crisis in the United States.

“It’s a mentality that permeates,” he told HuffPost. “We have double-digit unemployment for white people, we need stimulus. Then it drops below 10% and they say, ‘Our job is done. The market works.’”

It’s not just jobs. By almost every measure — food insecurity, housing worries, economic pain — people of color are doing worse right now and haven’t recovered as quickly as white Americans, particularly white men. Hundreds of thousands of women have had to drop out of the workforce, in part because of child care issues that have cropped up during the pandemic and because women-dominated industries have been hit hard in the downturn. Coronavirus mortality rates among Black Americans are two to three times as high as they are for white Americans.

The relative well-being of white men compared to all other groups was likely a factor in support for Trump, said William Darity Jr., a professor of economics, public policy and African American studies at Duke University.

“It may be that the coronavirus crisis suggests to [Trump voters] that things are returning to the proper order in terms of Black people’s relative position,” he said.