I am IN NO WAY a President Ronald Reagan ” fan “… however he is the one who signed the bill into legislation that ( most ) African Americans celebrate and the rest of America enjoys their “day off ” from work. January 16th is a day that if you are in America, “you get something” out of it.
But the reality is, the 1980s, with a conservative, free-market Republican in the White House, were a boom time for black America.
Indeed, Andrew Brimmer, the Harvard-trained black economist, the former Federal Reserve Board member, estimated that total black business receipts increased from $12.4 billion in 1982 to $18.1 billion in 1987, translating into an annual average growth rate of 7.9 percent (compared to 5 percent for all U.S. businesses.
The success of the black entrepreneurial class during the Reagan era was rivaled only by the gains of the black middle class.
In fact, black social scientist Bart Landry estimated that that upwardly mobile cohort grew by a third under Reagan’s watch, from 3.6 million in 1980 to 4.8 million in 1988. His definition was based on employment in white-collar jobs as well as on income levels.
All told, the middle class constituted more than 40 percent of black households by the end of Reagan’s presidency, which was larger than the size of black working class, or the black poor.
The impressive growth of the black middle class during the 1980s was attributable in no small part to the explosive growth of jobs under Reagan, which benefited blacks disproportionately.
Indeed, between 1982 and 1988, total black employment increased by 2 million, a staggering sum. That meant that blacks gained 15 percent of the new jobs created during that span, while accounting for only 11 percent of the working-age population.
Meanwhile, the black jobless rate was cut by almost half between 1982 and 1988. Over the same span, the black employment rate – the percentage of working-age persons holding jobs – increased to record levels, from 49 percent to 56 percent.
The black executive ranks especially prospered under Reagan. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that the number of black managers and officers in corporations with 100 or more employees increased by 30 percent between 1980 and 1985.
During the same period, the number of black professionals increased by an astounding 63 percent.
The burgeoning of the black professional, managerial and executive ranks during the 1980s coincided with a steady growth of the black student population at the nation’s colleges and universities in the 1980s.
Even though the number of college-aged blacks decreased during much of the decade, black college enrollment increased by 100,000 between 1980 and 1987, according to the Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, the 1980s saw an improvement in the black high school graduation rate, as the proportion of blacks 18 to 24 years old earning high school diplomas increased from 69.7 percent in 1980 to 76 percent by 1987.
On balance, then, the majority of black Americans made considerable progress in the 1980s.
More of us stayed in high school, graduated and went on to college. More of us were working than ever before, in better jobs and for higher wages.
The black middle class burgeoned to unprecedented size, emerging as the dominant income group in black America. And black business flourished, creating wealth in the black community.
But “THIS ONE TIME”, the credit goes to Ronald Reagan, who initiated the policies that fostered the economic growth and job creation of the 1980s, which produced the prosperity that most black Americans enjoyed.