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Black unemployment news is good but more has to be done for workers: National Urban League

  • The U.S. still needs to focus on making the paychecks of average Americans go further, says National Urban League CEO Marc Morial.
  • Workers of all races "want paychecks to grow relative to the expenses that they have, and those are mortgages, those are rents, those are bread, milk, shoes for their children," he says.

Marc Morial, CEO of civil rights organization the National Urban League, applauded the latest black unemployment numbers, but told CNBC on Friday that more needs to be done to help workers.

The unemployment rate for blacks fell to 5.9 percent in May, hitting the lowest level since the government started to record that data in 1972.

Also of note is that the gap between the black unemployment rate and the white unemployment rate has narrowed, Morial said on "Power Lunch."

However, instead of focusing on "being celebratory," he wants the government to focus making the paychecks of average Americans go further.

Workers of all races "want paychecks to grow relative to the expenses that they have, and those are mortgages, those are rents, those are bread, milk, shoes for their children," he added.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. However, some states have instituted higher minimum wages like Washington, which pays $11.50 an hour. Washington, D.C., comes in at the highest pay with $12.50 an hour.

Meanwhile, some corporations also have boosted worker pay. For example, retailer Walmart pays a minimum hourly wage of $11 and on Thursday, Costco announced it was raising its minimum wage to $14 a hour.

However, Morial wants Congress and President Donald Trump to raise the minimum wage for the entire country.

While he'd prefer it to be $15 an hour, he said $12 an hour would be a good start.

"A great nation with a strong economy, I think, ought to have a basic standard for people who work and I think that's not too much to ask," he said.

"That's the way it was in this nation for a long time before we got into this period of political paralysis and partisan bickering."