When Hillary Clinton addressed Black and Hispanic journalists at their national conference Friday, her focus was on economic improvement.
The Democratic presidential nominee attended the National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists joint conference on Aug. 5 and discussed her plans for improving economic conditions for the country’s Blacks and Latinos, which she says she would implement during her first 100 days in office.
“You know very well, it’s been said that when the economy catches a cold, communities of color get pneumonia,” she said. “The Great Recession hit our whole country hard, but the toll was especially difficult for Black and Latino families.”
Post-recession wealth statistics do show that minority families are recovering at a slower pace than their White counterparts. During the Great Recession lasting 2007 to 2009, the median net worth of U.S. families fell 39.4 percent, according to Pew Research Center, but the wealth gap between Whites and minorities widened in subsequent years. In 2013, the median wealth of White household was 13 times as much as that of Black households compared to eight times as much in 2010.
Clinton says her plan is to combat that wealth divide with job creation.
“In my first 100 days as President, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II,” she said. “That includes jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small businesses, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we will not only create jobs today, we will lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.”
One of the ways in which Clinton plans to build this foundation is through her support of South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn’s ‘10-20-30’ plan. Clyburn’s proposed approach would direct 10 percent of federal investments to the U.S. counties in which at least 20 percent of the population has been living below the poverty line for 30 years.
“We need that kind of focused, targeted investment – in urban places, rural places – wherever Americans have been left out and left behind,” Clinton said.
Another economic target is the unemployment rate, which consistently remains over the national average for Black groups. The unemployment rate for Black men aged 20 to 24, for example, is 18.9 in the second quarter of 2016, which is almost double the nationwide average for that age group. Clinton says this issue is amplified by the lack of employment opportunities.
“You know, it’s hard to write a resume if you have nothing to put on it,” she said. “We’re going to help young people get that first job, so they can get that second job, so they can build a good solid middle-class life that will give them and their families a better future.”
Building up businesses in these communities could create more of these jobs, but getting needed investments can be more difficult. A 2013 report by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy stated that although entrepreneurship is key in job creation and economic stability, Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs often start their businesses with less capital and had lower loan approval rates than White entrepreneurs.
A study from professors at Brigham Young University and Rutgers University also shows the discrimination that minority small-business owners face when seeking loans. Black and Hispanic participants were given less information, asked more questions about personal finances, and offered less application help.
“We’re going to do more to help black and Latino entrepreneurs get access to capital, so they have a real chance at turning their ideas into thriving businesses,” Clinton said. “Now I think that’s not only good for those entrepreneurs – it’s good for their families, their workers, and their communities.”
Clinton may still receive backlash from her husband’s 1994 crime bill, but she also emphasized criminal justice reform that would help get those released from prison back into the job force. As she’s said on record before, she aims to ban the box on employment applications that would require ex-offenders to share their criminal history.
In a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 80.8 percent of Blacks released from prison had been arrested again within five years. This kind of return to prison is often tied to lack of employment opportunities, according to the National Institute of Justice.
“As part of our end-to-end reform of the criminal justice system, we’re going to help people succeed when they return home from jail or prison,” she said. “We’re going to ban the box so they can be judged by their skills and talents, not by their past. And we will dedicate $5 billion to provide training and support to returning citizens so they can get good-paying jobs.”
And when it comes to getting these tasks done, Clinton says she wants to be held accountable.
“I am going to keep telling you what I’m going to do,” she said. “Because I want you to hold me accountable, press and citizens alike.”