Even with improvement in jobs and consumer spending that's been better than analysts expected, the U.S. economy remains in a deep hole, and most forecasters expect only a gradual recovery. Unemployment, at 11.1% in June, is higher than any time in the 80 years before the pandemic. Black and Latino unemployment rates are even higher.
Since mid-June, economic gains have slowed as virus cases accelerated in a variety of states, leading local officials to pause or reverse reopenings. And if lawmakers allow the expiration of extra unemployment benefits and small-business aid in coming weeks, jobs and consumption could take a further hit.
Amid the public outrage over the killing of George Floyd, an African American, in Minneapolis police custody, Biden has argued that racial inequalities are also economic inequalities, and that going back to the way things were before the coronavirus won't be enough.
"When we talk about imbalances of power in the economy, they are absolutely around worker and capital lines, and they are almost always also around racial lines. Not individually but a structural matter, as in, 'who has capital and who doesn't?'" Sterling said. "Rebalancing power in our economy and rebalancing power in our democracy is both the best way to actually make us recover and in doing so make us more resilient – all of us, black, white and brown."
Allies are hopeful about what they'll see.
"Vice President Biden has realized that history is calling on him not to be Roosevelt's heir, but to be the 21st-century's Roosevelt," said Damon Silvers, director of policy and special counsel for the AFL-CIO.
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