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President Joe Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement on May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP) President Joe Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement on May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP)

President Joe Biden speaks to graduating students at the Morehouse College commencement on May 19, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson June 11, 2024

President Joe Biden has sought to bolster his outreach to Black voters as polls show him with lower-than-usual support within that demographic.

In graduation remarks May 19 at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, a historically Black institution, Biden touted achievements for Black Americans that he said were reached during his presidency.

"Today, record numbers of Black Americans have jobs, health insurance, and more (wealth) than ever," Biden said. 

Both Biden and former President Donald Trump have prioritized outreach to Black voters as the presidential race continues to be close and as some polling shows the votes of Black voters could be up for grabs this fall.

Here, we examine the data for each part of Biden’s statement. 

Biden is on target that Black employment data is strong

When contacted for comment, the White House pointed PolitiFact to federal data on the number of Black Americans employed. This number peaked at just less than 21 million in March 2023, during Biden’s presidency, although it has decreased since then. In May 2024, the most recent month with available data, Black employment stood at 20.6 million.

But Biden’s referring to "record numbers" of Black Amerians with jobs is not the most instructive metric, because population increases over time, potentially bolstering employment numbers even absent economic growth. 

A more relevant metric is one that adjusts for population: the employment-population ratio for people 20 years and older. 

The Black employment-population ratio for people 20 and older reached 63% during Biden’s term. The only time it was higher going back to 1972, when the statistic was first collected, was in the late 1990s, when it peaked around 65%.

Biden is right about high levels of health insurance coverage

This is accurate in raw numbers and by percentage.

KFF, a Washington, D.C.,-based group studying health care policy, collected Census Bureau data on Black Americans’ health insurance rates. KFF’s analysis found the Black uninsured rate fell to 10% in 2022, the last full year with available data. That’s a record low.

The Black uninsured rate is significantly lower now than it was before the 2013 enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which provided government subsidies for buying insurance plans and let states expand coverage under the federal-state Medicaid program. After three years of modestly lower Black insurance coverage rates under then-President Donald Trump, the rates rose again under Biden in 2021 and 2022.

Varying data on gains in Black wealth

Biden said American Blacks now have "more (wealth) than ever," and we have rated a similar claim Half True, because racial wealth gap data shows mixed results for the last 35 years, the period with available data.

One way to determine the racial wealth gap is to measure Black families’ wealth compared with white families’ wealth. This is calculated by dividing the median total wealth for Black families by the median total wealth for white families.

The white-Black wealth ratio narrowed modestly in 2022, the most recent data available, as the Federal Reserve has reported. Even so, white families had vastly more wealth than Black families. In 2022, for every $100 the average white family held, the average Black family had $15.75. That’s the most since 2001, when Black families had $15.79, but it still accounts for only about one-sixth of the white level.

Another way the Federal Reserve measures the racial wealth gap is the absolute-dollar value difference in wealth between white and nonwhite families. By that measure, the racial wealth gap widened in 2022.

The absolute-dollar 2022 median wealth for white families was $285,000, and just less than $45,000 for Black families, the Federal Reserve reported.

Both ways of measuring the racial wealth gap are legitimate, Jonathan Welburn, a senior researcher specializing in economics at the Rand Corp., a nonpartisan research organization, told PolitiFact in January.

Welburn and other Rand researchers estimated in a May 2023 article that it would take trillions of dollars to eliminate the wealth gap between white and Black Americans.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear which improvements in Black wealth can be traced to Biden’s policies. 

The Federal Reserve report said net housing wealth, investment income and businesses or self-employment were the top Black income growth drivers from 2019 to 2022. But other factors helping to reduce the wealth gap predated Biden’s presidency.

The report said during this period, which intersected with the COVID-19 pandemic, incomes for nonwhite families were "propped up" by temporarily expanded government benefits, such as unemployment insurance and food stamps. Stimulus checks were another pandemic-era lifeline for Black Americans. Congress and the Trump administration approved these programs and Biden continued them.

PolitiFact Staff Writer Sara Swann contributed to this report.

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Our Sources

White House, President Joe Biden's remarks at the Morehouse College Class of 2024 commencement address, May 19, 2024

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, employment level for Black Americans, accessed June 9, 2024

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, employment-population ratio, accessed June 9, 2024

Federal Reserve Board, "Greater Wealth, Greater Uncertainty: Changes in Racial Inequality in the Survey of Consumer Finances," Oct. 18, 2023

Federal Reserve Board, "Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2019 to 2022," accessed June 9, 2024

KFF, "Health Coverage by Race and Ethnicity, 2010-2022," Jan. 11, 2024

Rand Corp., "What Would It Take to Close America's Black-White Wealth Gap?," May 9, 2023

The Brookings Institution, "Black wealth is increasing, but so is the racial wealth gap," Jan. 9, 2024

New York Times, "Minority Groups’ Uninsured Rate Has Plunged in Recent Years, Reports Find," June 7, 2024

PolitiFact, "What President Joe Biden got right, and what he missed, about the racial wealth gap," Jan. 12, 2024

Interview with Jonathan Welburn, senior researcher at RAND Corp., Jan. 9, 2024

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