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The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal, nonprofit Washington, D.C., think tank, released a report this week  that gives new insight on life for Black Americans. Fifty years after the Kerner Commission, which examined the cause of “civil unrest” in African American communities,  the EPI compares the state of Black communities in 1968 to today.

Valerie Wilson, director of the EPI’s program on race, ethnicity and the economy and an author of the study, said, “In almost all areas, it is about the same, and in other areas there is actually lost ground. We have not seen nearly as much progress in economic outcomes as we might expect given the gains in other outcomes.”

Here are keys findings (via

• Only 40% of Black Americans own homes in the U.S., virtually unchanged since 1968 and a full 30 percentage points lower than the home-ownership rate among white Americans.

• The rate of incarceration for Black Americans is more than six times that of white Americans today, and it tripled between 1968 and 2016.

• The hourly wage for Black Americans rose 30.5% between 1968 and 2016, but as of 2016 black workers made only 82.5 cents for every dollar white Americans made.

• Meanwhile, household income for the average Black family increased 42.8% since 1968, but remains only 61.6% of that of the typical white household.

• In 1968, more than one-third (34.7%) of Black Americans lived in poverty, and today the share is just one in five (21.4%). Black Americans are still 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites.

In addition, “College graduation rates have also improved for African Americans. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, less than one in 10 (9.1 percent) had a college degree in 1968, a figure that has climbed to almost one in four (22.8 percent) today.” Unfortunately, more formal education hasn’t resulted into large improvements in economics.

Clearly, there is still along way to go. However, maybe there is hope in Alicia Graza‘s Black Census Project, the first large survey focusing on Black people in the U.S. in over 150 years. For more information, click here.


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