While African-Americans have made significant social and economic strides since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Black community continues to face enormous financial and social challenges, according to a report released Tuesday by Democratic staff of the congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC).
The data reveals startling inequities by many of the most important measures of economic well-being, including an inexorable unemployment rate that is double that of White Americans, according to the report released by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), ranking Democrat on the JEC, and Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
“The report reaffirmed what the Congressional Black Caucus has been saying for many years, which is that poverty is pervasive,” Butterfield told NewsOne in a telephone interview after the report was released. “And it didn’t begin with the most recent recession. This problem goes all the way back to the end of slavery. When the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865, Blacks were in poverty and it persists to a degree today.”
Here are five reasons the American Dream has eluded Blacks:
1. The Black and White employment gap persists
At 10.1 percent, the current unemployment rate for Black Americans is more than double the rate of 4.7 percent for White Americans.
That means more than 1-in-10 African-Americans are unemployed. And job prospects are especially dire for young African-Americans. Higher unemployment rates, particularly among younger African-Americans, perpetuate the racial earnings gap.
Further, the median income of African-American households is $34,600—nearly $24,000 less than the median income of White households at $58,300.
2. Blacks make up the largest number of long-term underemployed citizens
Blacks are 2.5 times more likely than Whites to be long-term unemployed, with two out of every five unemployed Blacks searching for work for more than six months. African-Americans are also more likely to be underemployed. For example, among individuals working part-time, 1-in-3 black workers are doing so because their hours have been cut or they cannot find full-time work. This is the case for only 1-in-5 white workers.
3. Joblessness translates into low net worth
The median net worth of White households is 13 times the level for Black households. In 2013, the median net worth of African-American households was only $11,000 compared to about $142,000 for White households—a difference of $131,000. As a result, Blacks are almost three times more likely to live in poverty than White Americans.
4. Black homeownership is down
The decline in home values during the recent recession was particularly devastating to Blacks, for whom homeowner equity makes up a higher proportion of overall wealth than for Whites, notes the report.
During the recession, one-in-ten Black homeowners who took out mortgages at the height of the housing boom eventually lost their home to foreclosure. Today, while home values have rebounded in recent years, the recovery has not kept pace with the returns in the stock market, leading to a slower recovery in Black household wealth than for Whites.
5. Fewer Blacks than Whites obtain college degrees
African-Americans lag behind Whites in educational attainment. Individuals with a college education tend to earn more and have better job prospects than those without a post-secondary education. However, African-Americans are less likely to obtain education beyond high school than White students, and they are less likely to earn a college degree. One-in-five Blacks, or 21 percent between the ages of 25 to 29 years old, have completed at least four years of college compared to two-in-five Whites, or 41 percent the same age.
SOURCE: Joint Economic Committee | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty