15 September 2010

Good News and Bad News In D.C.

Yesterday, the incumbent Mayor of the District of Columbia lost that Democratic party primary (between two African-American candidates) that is the de facto election there (because Republicans are grossly outnumbered). Since I don't live in the District of Columbia, and internicene conflict between Democrats in the Democratic party stronghold isn't that relevant to larger political trends in the country, I don't care all that much. The people are getting the candidate that they want and that is what really matters.

But, the commentary on the conditions in the District of Columbia where this has unfolded do interest me.

Erza Klein notes:

Some things in D.C. are objectively better than they were when Fenty took office. The murder rate, for instance, is at a 45-year low. Test scores really are up under Michelle Rhee -- though the improvement is incremental rather than revolutionary (which is exactly what you'd expect). Property values are higher, though that also means people are getting pushed out. But the economy is awful.

Adrian Fenty ran for office in late 2006. Unemployment was in the 5 percent range. Today, it's at 10.5 percent.

Steam Powered Opinions (and others) think that Klein's take on the unemployment situation is a bit myopic when it comes to the notion that maybe something more than an inept campaign is involved, noting that:

[T[he district has a 12.5% unemployment rate and 34.5% unemployment rate for African-Americans.

The unemployment rate for African-Americans has been higher than the overall unemployment rate in the United States, to the best of my knowledge, every time that it has ever been measured for any time period anywhere in the United States, in a statistically significant sample. Usually, as an empirical rule of thumb, the African-American unemployment rate is about twice the overall unemployment rate. But, the gap has widened considerably in D.C. where the African-American unemployment rate is almost triple the overall unemployment rate. The African-American community in the United States has been hit harder than the nation as a whole by the economic downturn

African-Americans disproportionately backed incumbent Mayor Fenty's opponent, something that multiple commentators attribute, in part, to high unemployment rates for African-Americans.

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