White House

Trump hits back at Jay-Z by touting black unemployment numbers

Jay Z
Frederick M. Brown | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Sunday lashed out at musician Jay-Z, demanding recognition for the improved job market for African Americans, in response to the hip-hop mogul criticizing Trump's vulgar outburst against African and Haitian immigrants.

On Saturday, Jay-Z appeared on CNN's "The Van Jones Show," where he called the president's remarks — in which he reportedly describing immigrants from African countries as coming from "s___hole countries" — "hurtful." He added that Trump appeared to be "looking down on a whole population of people."

The musician, whose real name is Shawn Carter, told the network that "everyone feels anger, but after the anger it's really hurtful because he's looking down on a whole population of people and he's so misinformed because these places have beautiful people."

President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers a speech during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 26, 2018.
Denis Balibouse | Reuters

For his part, Trump has denied using the vulgar term, and on Saturday sent a letter to African leaders expressing "profound respect" and pledging a high-level visit to the region by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Early Sunday, the president tweeted that Jay-Z should acknowledge the decline in black unemployment — which recently fell to its lowest in nearly five decades — and the role his policies have played in that drop.

Trump tweet

In the wake of the great recession, black unemployment set a record of 16 percent while former president Barack Obama was in office. Since 2011, that high water mark has steadily declined to under 7 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment rate - Black or African-American - since 1972

However, Carter did in fact address that question on CNN. When asked on "The Van Jones Show" about the president's repeated assertions about improving labor conditions for black Americans, Jay-Z said, "That's missing the whole point."

Van Jones tweet

"Because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't," he said. "You treat people like human beings. That's the main point."