The economic status of Black Americans
Jun 20, 2023
Episode 949

The economic status of Black Americans

Could recent economic gains be erased?

For Black workers in this economy, the last couple of years have brought gains in employment and wages.

In April, the Black unemployment rate fell to a historically low 4.7%, and the racial wage gap has shrunk slightly over the last five years. But in terms of the economy as a whole, stark disparities still exist for Black Americans.

“I’ve looked at the unemployment rates for the last 60 years,” said Algernon Austin, director for race and economic justice at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “It’s important to remember that a historically low Black unemployment rate still tends to be a high unemployment rate if you’re a white person.”

On this post-Juneteenth episode, Austin explains recent gains by Black workers, why the Federal Reserve can’t fix high Black unemployment alone, and how sputtering diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in U.S. companies could impact the Black workforce. Plus, why racial justice movements have always been economic stories.

In the News Fix: Reddit is under growing pressure to walk back changes to its business model. Plus, what does monetary policy look like abroad? And the death of Olympian Tori Bowie is a reminder of rising maternal mortality rates in the United States, particularly for women of color.

Finally, listeners call in about the New York City event every mermaid should know about and how much “Make Me Smart” they need in their lives.

Here’s everything we talked about today:

We want to know what you’ve been wrong about lately. Send us your answer to the Make Me Smart question at or leave us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

No matter how bananapants your day is, “Make Me Smart” is here to help you through it all— 5 days a week.

It’s never just a one-way conversation. Your questions, reactions, and donations are a vital part of the show. And we’re grateful for every single one.

Donate any amount to become a Marketplace Investor and help make us smarter (and make us smile!) every day.

The team

Marissa Cabrera Senior Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer