A new study finds that if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed, the median wealth for black Americans will fall to $0 by 2053, with Latino Americans reaching the same median wealth two decades later.
The report, "The Road to Zero-Wealth," defines middle-class wealth as a household net worth of $68,000 to $204,000, and notes the disconnect between income and wealth: a median income for one's racial background does not guarantee entry into the middle-class.
"White households in the middle-income quintile—those earning $37,201-61,328 annually—own nearly eight times as much wealth ($86,100) as Black middle-income earners ($11,000) and ten times that of their Latino counterparts ($8,600)," write the authors.
Black Americans are also unable to accumulate middle class wealth even with high levels of education:
"If we consider educational attainment—often considered as the "great equalizer" between the rich and the poor and between families of different racial and ethnic backgrounds—White families whose head of household holds a high school diploma have nearly enough wealth ($64,200) to be considered middle class. A typical Black or Latino family whose head of household has a college degree however, owns just $37,600 and $32,600, respectively, in wealth."
America’s 'middle class' is under assault.
Since 1983, national median wealth has declined by 20 percent, falling from $73,000 to $64,000 in 2013. And U.S. homeownership has been in a steady decline since 2005.
While we often hear about the struggles of the white working class, a driving force behind this trend is an accelerating decline in black and Latino household wealth.
Over those three decades, the wealth of median black and Latino households decreased by 75 percent and 50 percent, respectively, while median white household wealth actually rose a little. As of 2013, median whites had $116,800 in wealth — compared to just $2,000 for Latinos and $1,700 for blacks.