Those disparities exist because of a long history of policies that excluded and exploited black Americans, said Valerie Wilson, director of the program on race, ethnicity and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group.
“Racial inequality has become so normalized in this society,” she said. “It’s what we expect to see. That’s the way it’s been for so long.”
The numbers are staggering.
The difference is wider now than it was at the start of the century, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution. And wealth is all the more important these days since it serves as a safety net during economic downturns.
Another reason why it’s more difficult for black families to save and build wealth is because they typically earn less than whites.
Since 2000, the wage gap between blacks and non-Hispanic whites has grown significantly, even when educational attainment is factored in, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. Black workers’ wages grew slowly from 2000 until last year, when they finally exceeded 2000 and 2007 levels across the earnings spectrum.
In April, the unemployment rate for black workers soared to 16.7%, the highest since early 2010, but it was a record 14.2% for white workers. Typically, in recessions, the unemployment rate gap widens.
The nation’s poverty rate of 11.8% in 2018 was significantly lower for the first time since 2007, before the Great Recession, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.
The poverty rate for blacks was 20.8%, compared to 8.1% for non-Hispanic whites. Both have trended downward during the economic revival of recent years.
This holds true even among the employed. Black workers are 60% more likely to be uninsured than white workers, the Economic Policy Institute found.
Along with a lack of coverage, black Americans have higher rates of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.