Under the Bush Administration, Blacks Are Giving Back the Economic Gains Achieved During the Clinton Years

In his regular op-ed column recently in The New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote, “Both the relative and absolute economic status of blacks, after improving substantially during the Clinton years, have worsened since 2000.”

Let’s examine if Mr. Krugman is correct. In 1993, when Bill Clinton took office, the median black family income, adjusted for inflation, was $27,731. When Clinton left office in 2000 the median black family income, again, adjusted for inflation, was $36,939. This was a 33 percent jump in black incomes during the Clinton years.

Whites also did well during the Clinton years. Their incomes improved by 16.6 percent, about half the rate for blacks.

Since Bush was elected in 2000 the median income for both blacks and whites has declined in constant dollars adjusted for inflation. In 2004 the median black family income was $35,158. This was 3 percent lower than the median black family income in 2000, the year of the Bush election. For whites, the median income figure dropped 1.2 percent.

Now let’s look at the poverty data. In 1993, when Bill Clinton came into office, 33.1 percent of all blacks in the United States were poor. By the year 2000 the black poverty rate dipped to 22.5 percent, a remarkable achievement in eight years.

During the Bush years, the black poverty rate has increased to 24.7 percent.

But whites saw a reduction in their rate of poverty during the Clinton years from 9.9 percent to 7.4 percent. The latest rate of white poverty is 8.6 percent.

Paul Krugman was right in every respect.