According to a Fox News survey released on Wednesday, Obama’s approval rating stands at 45 percent among all registered voters. However, among black voters, Obama’s job approval soars to 86 percent.
Given Obama’s devastating impact on black Americans, this is even more confounding than the whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Obama’s election, no doubt, generated considerable ethnic pride. Seeing a black man (or, precisely, a half-black man) inaugurated was a truly exceptional milestone for all Americans — black and otherwise.
But Obama reached the Oval Office nearly five years and four months ago. Since then, his performance should have dimmed his halo among blacks, especially considering how much they have suffered on his watch.
• When Obama entered office on January 20, 2009, U.S. unemployment stood at 7.8 percent. By April 2014, that Bureau of Labor Statistics figure had fallen to 6.3 percent — a modest improvement. Among blacks overall, joblessness dropped, though less significantly — from 12.7 to 11.6 percent. But for blacks aged 16 to 19, unemployment grew from 35.3 to 36.8 percent.
• Obama’s somewhat more sanguine unemployment numbers, such as they are, seem less about job growth and more about people simply abandoning the workforce — whereupon they conveniently exit the unemployment rate. The more revealing labor-force-participation rate thus fell from 65.7 percent in January 2009 to 62.8 percent last month, a portrait of disengagement last witnessed in March 1978. For black adults, that number slipped from 63.2 to 60.9 percent. While 29.6 percent of blacks aged 16 to 19 were working when Obama took power, only 27.9 percent were employed last month.
• Poverty has increased under Obama. Overall, 14.3 percent of Americans were below the poverty line in January 2009, versus 15.0 percent in 2012, according to the latest available data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. Similarly, the share of black Americans living in poverty expanded from 25.8 to 27.2 percent.
• Inflation-adjusted median household income fell across America, from $53,285 in 2009 to $51,017 in 2012, the most recent Census Bureau data indicate. Blacks slid, too, from $34,880 to $33,321 — and at a much lower income level.
• America’s population of food-stamp recipients soared overall from 32,889,000 in 2009 to 46,022,000 in 2012, the latest Agriculture Department statistics show. For blacks, the analogous numbers are 7,393,000 when Obama arrived to 10,955,000 in 2012.
• In spite of $275 billion in housing-market bailouts that Obama unveiled in his first month in office, home ownership actually has waned. In the first quarter of 2009, 67.3 percent of Americans owned homes. By 1Q 2014, that Census Bureau figure was 64.8 percent. Meanwhile, black home ownership during this interval sagged from 46.1 to 43.3 percent.