The Roots of Black Economic Progress

One author who has been quick to notice the gains in income for black and Hispanic people is Manhattan Institute senior fellow Jason L. Riley. In his fact-filled and beautifully terse 2022 book, The Black Boom, Riley, shows that incomes for every demographic and every part of the income distribution grew during Trump’s first three years.

My independent check of the data shows that Riley is right. Each year the US Census reports comprehensive survey data on incomes of various ethnic groups. Its latest report shows that between 2017 and 2019, median income for black households rose from $40,594 to $46,073, a rise of 13.5 percent over just two years. Adjusted for inflation, the increase was a respectable 8.8 percent. For Hispanic households, median income rose from $61,372 in 2917 to $68,703 in 2019, an 11.3 percent increase; inflation adjusted, the increase was 7.3 percent.

How does that compare with progress for white households over those same two years? Their median income rose from $65,273 in 2017 to $72,204, an increase of 10.6 percent. Adjusted for inflation, their median income rose by 6.1 percent.

Notice something interesting: black and Hispanic household incomes rose by a higher percentage than white household incomes.

This is from David R. Henderson, “The Roots of Black Economic Progress,” Defining Ideas, July 28, 2022.

Another excerpt:

On February 10, 2017, less than one month into the Trump presidency, Joe Kernen and Becky Quick interviewed me on CNBC’s Squawk Box about economics under the Trump administration. My fellow interviewee, Tony Crescenzi of Pimco, was pessimistic about future growth rates. He argued that the labor force would grow by less than 1 percent and that productivity would grow by less than 1 percent, causing overall economic growth to be less than 2 percent annually. While I granted his arithmetic, I challenged his data. Predicting productivity growth, I pointed out, is necessarily forward looking. I asked, “What if we get all kinds of deregulation that frees things up and you get more productivity?”

Read the whole thing.