Nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd have thrown issues of economic inequality, already exasperated by the coronavirus crisis, into sharp relief. The wealth gap in America has been growing since at least the 1970s as income levels stagnated for lower and middle class households while continuing to grow for households at the top of the spectrum.
Centuries of racism and discrimination mean that this divide is a great deal wider for black households that are denied the access to the opportunities and resources available to white households. “No progress has been made in reducing income and wealth inequalities between black and white households over the past 70 years,” according to economists Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins who published a 2018 paper on U.S. incomes and wealth since 1949. The Brookings Institution points out that the ratio of white family wealth to black family wealth is higher today that it was at the beginning of the century.
Here are 9 numbers that sum up the vast gap.
That’s the May 2020 jobless rate for black workers. During the same month, white workers were unemployed at a rate of 12.4%. Less than half of black adults currently have a job, compared with just under 60% prior to the beginning of the pandemic layoffs in February. The sobering statistic comes after unemployment rates for black workers reached a record low in the months before the pandemic.
That was the median net worth of black households in 2016, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the Brookings Institution notes. The median net worth of a white family at the same time was $171,000—nearly ten times as much.
The Washington Postpoints out that in 1968, the median black household had just 9.4% of the wealth of the median white household, according to Fed data. Yet by 2016, that ratio had fallen to just 8.7%. In other words, the wealth divide actually widened a bit over nearly a half century of what is commonly thought of as progress for African-Americans.
That’s how much the median net worth of black families fell between 2007 and 2013, reflecting lingering damage from the Great Recession. White families experienced a smaller, though still substantial, drop in median net worth of 26%.
That’s how much less likely black families are to own their homes than white families, according to the Census Bureau.
That’s the portion of black homeowners who didn’t pay or deferred their mortgage payment in May, during the depths of the covid-19 crisis, compared with just 9% for white homeowners, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey .
That’s the percentage of black respondents who said they had money in the stock market, according to a 2017 Gallup poll. The rate was 60% for white respondents. Investing in the stock market is one of many ways families compound their wealth.
According to a study from Boston College’s Center for Retirement research, the typical black household had just 46% of the retirement wealth of a typical white household in 2016. The study notes that the gap would be much larger if it weren’t for the value of Social Security benefits households have earned and are expected to receive.