At Donald Trump's bizarre press conference this week, before defending racist activists, a reporter asked the president how concerned he is about race relations in America. Trump started by taking another cheap shot at President Obama -- the subject of his ongoing obsession -- before sharing his vision on how race relations can improve.
"I believe that the fact that I brought in -- it will be soon, millions of jobs, you see where companies are moving back into our country, I think that's going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations," Trump said. After a series of related economic claims, he added, "I think that's going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations. You know why? It's jobs. What people want now, they want jobs. They want great jobs with good pay. And when they have that, you watch how race relations will be."
There are, of course, a couple of glaring problems here. First, job creation since he took office isn't nearly as good as he thinks it is. Second, as the Washington Post noted, Trump's plan for improving race relations is at odds with reality.
Jobs are not magic fairy dust that can cure everything. Racism is a deeper problem than just economics. Even in periods of strong employment and economic growth, the United States and other nations have still experienced ugly flare ups of hate crimes and riots.
“Jobs don't cure the fundamental problems that ail us,” says economist Diane Swonk, who runs DS Economics. [...]
Jobs are not enough to bridge the deep racial divide. In theory, a booming economy should help reduce poverty and inequality, but racial tensions are more than just an inequality problem.
Vox had a related piece yesterday, highlighting a 1998 study that found, throughout American history, there's been no meaningful correlation between the strength of the economy and domestic racial tensions.
Even at face value, Trump's pitch is odd. As the president is quick to remind the public, the current employment rate is at a 16-year low. By his reasoning, this should mean that race relations in the United States are great and getting better.