Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The facts are there in black and white for all to see

"What I’ve done for African Americans in two and a half years, no president has been able to do anything like it,” Donald Trump boasted.

In April 2019, when the overall unemployment rate was 3.6% – the lowest it has been in 40 years, the white unemployment unemployment rate was 3.1%. The black unemployment rate was 6.7%. Even as the black unemployment rate hit a record low of 5.5% in August it was still over 2% higher than the white unemployment rate. 

“We’ve sort of normalized this inequality and we expect the black unemployment rate to be double the white rate, so in that context, it’s easier for people to think that the overall rate is a great thing.” said Valerie Wilson, director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy program at the Economic Policy Institution.

The higher-than-average black unemployment rate is just one of many data points that show a booming economy does not mean equality for black Americans. There is a serious wealth gap between white families and black families. The median white family has 12 times the amount of wealth than the median black family. Income disparity exists across all education and income levels. A study published in 2018 that used an unprecedented amount of data – 20m records from Americans – showed that black men who were born into low-income families were more likely to end up low-income themselves than any other gender or race.
Much of the wealth gap can be attributed to disparities in home ownership. About 43% of black families own a home, compared with 72% of white families. Black homeownership has actually decreased since 1987, while white, Asian and Hispanic homeownership all increased during the same time period, according to a 2018 report from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
There is also a stubborn wage gap between black and white Americans. In 2016, black Americans made 82 cents to every dollar that a white American made. The disparity is even worse for black women who make just over 60% of white men’s earnings and 89% of black men’s earnings.

“Inequality is costly on the people who are burdened by it,” said Andre Perry, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “When you’re not making the kind of commensurate income, you’re living farther away, you have more commute time, you have less discretionary time, you’re spending more money on various transactions that you wouldn’t have to spend. If you don’t ever look at an race, then you’re really not trying to get a full picture of the economy,” said Perry.

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