Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Black Poverty

The median White family now has 41 times more wealth than the median Black family and 22 times more wealth than the median Latino family. These are among the findings in “Dreams Deferred,” from the Institute for Policy Studies.

Overall, inequality has grown as wages for almost half of all U.S. workers have been flatlined since the late 1970s. Meanwhile, expenses for housing, health care, and other basic needs have risen. This has touched people of all races, fueling some of the discontent of both regressive and progressive populism.

But while wealth at the middle falters, it’s soaring at the top. The Forbes 400 group of billionaires now have as much wealth combined as the entire Black population and a quarter of the Latino population combined. And the three richest billionaires—Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates—have as much wealth as the entire bottom half of U.S. households.

Since the early 1980s, median wealth among Black and Latino families has been stalled at less than $10,000. The median Black family today owns $3,600—just 2 percent of the $147,000 of wealth the median White family owns. The median Latino family has assets worth $6,600—just 4 percent of the median White family.

Since 1983, median wealth for all U.S. households declined by 3 percent, adjusting for inflation. Over this same period, the median Black family saw their wealth drop by more than half.

If the trajectory of the past three decades continues, by 2050 the median White family will have $174,000 of wealth, while Latino median wealth will be just $8,600—and Black median wealth will head downward to $600. In fact, the median Black family is on track to reach zero wealth by 2082.
The proportion of all U.S. households of any race with zero or “negative” wealth (meaning their debts exceed the value of their assets) has grown from one in six in 1983 to one in five households today.

Families of color are much likelier to be in this precarious financial situation: 37 percent of Black families and 33 percent of Latino families have zero or negative wealth, compared with just 15.5 percent of White families.

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