Radio Address to the Nation on Economic Growth and Minorities

July 27, 1985

My fellow Americans:

Some of the recent economic reports might be seen as spectacular were they not becoming so routine. The Consumer Price Index increased by only two-tenths of 1 percent in June, following an identical two-tenths of 1 percent increase in May. The United States economic expansion is 31 months old. Employment stands near its highest level in history, and yet inflation is below 4 percent.

Not since the 1960's have prices been so well contained for so long a period of economic growth. Most important, the outlook on this summer day for the balance of 1985 and beyond is very good for continued low inflation, renewed economic strength, and rising employment. Productivity growth is strengthening and interest rates have dropped significantly, invigorating housing markets and permitting businesses to better finance investments and machines, technologies, and products for the future. Add to this the increase in business orders, which provides incentives to rebuild inventories, and the pickup of other economics abroad, and we see all the parts falling in place for a new surge of robust expansion.

One of the most hopeful signs for our future is being seen in our black communities. We'll have to wait for the Census Bureau to release the latest poverty figures in August to confirm the new trend, but the evidence of progress seems clear. A record number of blacks -- some 10.6 million -- now have jobs. Since November 1982 the black unemployment rate has fallen by 6\1/2\ percentage points, and nearly one of every five new jobs generated went to a black man, woman, or teenager. Blacks have gained an average of 45,000 new jobs every month for the past 31 months -- twice the job gain rate of whites.

Those gains were created by the engines of enterprise, not the horse and buggy system of bureaucratic make-work that broke down long ago. They were created by people getting ahead and breaking free, not because of what society does for them, but what they do for themselves -- by people who know complete emancipation must be a spiritual struggle for brotherhood, a political struggle for participation at the ballot box, and an economic struggle for an opportunity society that creates jobs, not welfare; wealth, not poverty; and freedom, not dependency.

We're reaching out to every American who yearns to board the freedom train that can take them to the destination of their dreams. But that train can't keep moving if government keeps blocking the track. We can't rest until everyone who wants to work can find a real job. No American seeking opportunity through an expanding economy can break free if government erodes their take-home pay with new taxes. Minorities and women can't break free if government destroys their earning power with protectionist measures that raise prices and eventually cripple the job market and our economy as well. And workers searching for jobs and advancement can't break free if government upsets the marketplace with harebrained ideas like federally mandated comparable worth, a proposal that would take salary decisions out the hands of employers and employees and give government the power to determine what a fair salary is.

On another front, we'll keep speaking out, pushing as hard as we can, to give all Americans new opportunity to build a better life. That means passage of our tax reform to lower rates, nearly double the personal exemption, raise the standard deduction, and increase the earned-income tax credit. Tax reform is a must, because it would turn private energies away from efforts to save another dollar in taxes toward efforts to earn another dollar. This is how hope and opportunity are created.

We'll keep pushing for passage of enterprise zones as long as areas that could be new sites for economic development remain destitute landmarks of despair. Such neglect is an outrage, and those blocking this legislation should never have the nerve to say a word about compassion again.

Finally, to bring teenage unemployment rates down further, we've asked the Congress for a 3-year test of the youth employment opportunity wage. It enjoys bipartisan support -- leading black mayors, 114 historically black colleges, the Fraternal Order of Police, even the National Alliance of Postal Employees. It's time Congress passed this proposal that could create some 400,000 new jobs for our youth. We've got to believe in them if they're to believe in us.

At long last, all Americans are beginning to move forward together. From now on, it's got to be full speed ahead.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.