When first inaugurated, President Barack Obama worked to end the downward economic spiral and averted another Great Depression by restoring the health of the financial sector by injecting federal resources into the economy. After avoiding a much bigger catastrophe the focus has been on stimulating job creation and fostering economic growth. While the composition and the size of these efforts have been vigorously debated, most commentators agreed upon the goal of these efforts which is to end the recession and get the economy back on the pre-recessionary track. Few voices in mainstream policy circles have questioned whether this goal is appropriate.
Simply ending the recession will not solve the job crisis within the Black community. Many analysts have noted that labor market distress—when properly calculated—among Black workers has been at catastrophic levels for decades. In the tough labor market of today, about one out every four Black workers is underemployed, but even in good times the ratio was one in seven. This recognition calls into question the policy goal of returning the economy to pre-Great Recession norms and standards. Labor markets prior to December 2007 did not serve the Black community well; to the contrary, racial inequality in labor market outcomes was a central feature.