Over the past eight years, President Barack Obama has worked to improve the lives of all Americans, including African Americans, by providing economic and educational opportunities, improving healthcare coverage, working to ensure that the criminal justice system is applied fairly to all citizens, and championing workforce development to ensure we continue to develop and retain the strongest, most productive workforce in the world. During this Administration, African Americans have made strides in many of these areas.
What’s more, President Obama’s JumpStart Our Business Start-up (JOBS) Act resulted in a major shift in securities laws that meant the emancipation of capital for minority and women-owned businesses, who traditionally have struggled with gaining access to capital through traditional means. More minorities and lower net worth individuals were able to get in on investments that can drive more wealth generation to their communities. Thanks to Titles II, III, and IV, a start-up can publicly raise capital, participate in equity-based crowdfunding and use online tools to find investors, as well as raise up to $50 million from both non-accredited investors and accredited investors (those making at least $200,000 a year or have a million dollar net-worth).
Under President Obama’s watch there was an emphasis on black males. In February 2014, the president introduced My Brother’s Keeper, to specifically focus on improving the lives of young African American males. The initiative is encouraging nonprofits to raise $200 million in five years for programs focused on young men of color. Though My Brother’s Keeper is not a federally-funded government program, no such effort has existed before under any American president. President Obama is said to be planning to make My Brother’s Keeper a major policy before he leaves office.
African American and white political pundits alike, continue to attack President Obama’s record, regardless of discriminatory practices, by pointing to the high school dropout rate, poverty rate, and high unemployment rate among African Americans. The Administration admits more work remains to further improve economic outcomes for African Americans and fight to rid the nation of the long-term disparities that have put the African American community at a disadvantage.
Still and all, this Administration’s notable record includes:
Restoring Economic Security: According to the White House, American businesses have added over 14 million jobs. This job growth has helped cut the African American unemployment rate in half — from 16.8% in March 2010 to 8.3% in December 2015, its lowest level since September 2007. The African American unemployment rate has fallen by more than the overall unemployment rate in the past few years, and is further below its pre-recession level than any other racial or ethnic group.
Helping the Long-Term Unemployed Get Back to Work: The Administration has taken steps to help more of the long-term unemployed get back to work, around one-quarter of whom are African American. The president unveiled a set of “best practices” being taken by leading employers – including over 80 members of the Fortune 500 and over 20 members of the Fortune 50 – around recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed to remove some of the barriers that make it harder for them to navigate the hiring process. The Department of Labor awarded nearly $170 million in “Ready to Work Partnership” grants to support the best models for partnerships between employers, non-profits and the job training system, to help train and connect the long-term unemployed to work.
Providing Comprehensive Healthcare: President Obama’s victories in Congress for comprehensive health care coverage, as well as his win in the Supreme Court, meant that many African Americans benefited. By March 2015, over 16 million Americans had enrolled in Obamacare, reports NBC News. Because of Obamacare, the rates of uninsured Americans have fallen to 11.9% after being at 16% when President Bush left office. Over 3 million poor Americans, including hundreds of thousands of African Americans in the south would be covered if not for Republican governors blocking the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
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