Libre Spokesperson Ignores Improving Economy To Suggest Minorities, Young People Are Worse Off Under Obama

Libre Initiative spokesperson and recurring Fox News guest host Rachel Campos-Duffy misled viewers about how minorities and young people have fared economically under President Obama, suggesting that his administration has made both groups worse off when the opposite is true.

On the September 28, 2014 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, President Obama argued that the United States “is definitely better off” economically than it was when he took office in January 2009. The president said he would compare the success of his response to the “terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis” that he inherited to the response by “any leader around the world.”  Two days later, Fox New used those remarks to resurrect its misleading line of attack on Obama's economic record.

During the July 21 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Campos-Duffy picked it up again, claiming, that “single women, minorities, young people -- these people are doing worse than they were before Obama came into office.”  As evidence, Campos-Duffy cherry-picked data to mask positive trends in the economy, particularly among minorities and young people:

Campos-Duffy Relied On Outdated Poverty Data 

During her Cavuto appearance, Campos-Duffy repeated the same outdated claims she made in a January 8, 2014 National Review Online article in which she argued that Hispanic family incomes have dropped and  “2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty” during the Obama administration, proving that “the Obama economy has not been kind to Hispanics.”

In her recent appearance on Fox, Campos-Duffy referenced that same argument from 18 months ago to make a false claim about the number of Hispanics currently living in poverty. According to September 2014 Pew findings, the number actually fell from 13.6 million to 12.7 million from 2012 to 2013 and  “the drop in the poverty rates among Hispanics... contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006.” Additionally, “the median household income of Hispanics increased” for the first time since 2000. From Pew:

Hispanics are the only major racial or ethnic group to see a statistically significant decline in its poverty rate, according to 2013 Census Bureau figures released this week. The drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics - from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% in 2013 - contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006.

[...]

Meanwhile, the median household income of Hispanics increased by 3.5% to $40,963, the first annual increase since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Income changes for whites, blacks and Asians were not statistically significant. 

Unemployment Rate Has Declined For Minorities, Young People 

Campos-Duffy claimed that minorities and young people were among those “doing worse than they were before Obama came into office.”

According to findings by Factcheck.org and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the unemployment rate for Hispanics is “down under Obama,” with steady declines among young people as well:

  • The total number of unemployed Hispanics went from 2.2 million in January 2009 to 1.7 million in June 2015.
  • Youth unemployment remains elevated as the labor market recovers from the recession, but just like all other unemployment data, these rates are steadily declining.
  • The “seasonally adjusted unemployment rate” for Hispanics in the U.S. was 6.6 percent in June, dropping from its peak of 12.9 in December 2010. When President Obama took office in 2009, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 10.1 percent.

The “Obama Economy” Has Provided Years Of Steady Recovery From The "Bush Recession

Campos-Duffy also argued that Vice President Biden “is in trouble if he's going to run on an Obama economy,”  which ignores how the U.S. economy under President Obama has steadily improved since the recession that started under President Bush.

What Campos-Duffy failed to mention is that every American was affected by the recession. According to a September 2014 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), median income nationwide peaked in 1999, toward the end of the Clinton administration, before receding in the wake of two Bush-era recessions. Median income in the United States in 2013, the most recently available data, was less than it was in 1989, but the decline does not originate with the Obama administration. According to CAP, “America's middle class is struggling to recover from both the Great Recession and the decades of unequal economic growth that preceded it.”

Still, other economic indicators are improving across the board, including in minority communities. Unemployment rates among minorities are decreasing steadily, in line with nationwide trends, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of June, the total civilian unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, which is the lowest since April 2008. For African-Americans and Hispanics, unemployment is at 9.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, evidence of the strongest labor market in either community since the first half of 2008, when the recession was less than six months old.

According to data from the BLS, unemployment rates peaked nationwide in October 2009 and then steadily declined for for nearly six years.

The American economy has not fully recovered from its deepest economic contraction since the Great Depression, but it is steadily improving in important ways for minorities and young people. According to the most-recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has contributed to sharp declines in uninsured rates for adults nationwide, which stood at just 11.4 percent at the end of June -- the lowest in the history of Gallup's tracking. The nationwide improvement has been particularly pronounced among minorities and young people:

Various conservative media outlets predicted that the ACA would be harm the U.S. economy, but the decrease in uninsured rates coupled with the steady decline in unemployment, particularly among minorities and young people, suggests that the so-called “Obama economy” has been kinder than Campos-Duffy claims. According to NBC News, Hispanics are “the group with the largest gains in insurance” because of the health care law.

Craig Harrington contributed research to this blog.