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Report: Despite progress, deep inequality plagues Black America

Stacy M. Brown (NNPA News Wire Contributor) | 5/23/2016, 1:52 p.m.
In 1976, then-President Gerald Ford delivered the annual “State of the Union Address,” virtually ignoring the plight of African-Americans and ...
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, speaks during the “2016 State of Black America” launch event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Like Blacks, Hispanics in all regions were consistently paid less than Whites though, on average, the gaps between White household income and Hispanic household income were smaller than those between Whites and Blacks, the report found.

“This is the remaining issue of civil rights and economic justice in America,” Morial said.

“This economic gap between Blacks and Whites, which is a component of the gap between rich and poor and working class people in America is a continuing problem.”

In 2015, nationally 6.6 percent of Hispanics and 9.6 percent of Blacks were unemployed compared with 4.6 percent of Whites.

The report revealed that African-Americans are doing about the same as they have in previous years as the nation rises out of the Great Recession, which still is surprising better than they did when the first State of Black America report was released in 1976.

The National Urban League’s equality index is based on collected data from federal agencies including the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With full equality with Whites in economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement set at 100 percent, the National Urban League said this year’s equality index for Blacks stands at 72.2 percent, compared with last year’s 72 percent.

For Hispanics, it’s 77.8 percent compared to last year’s rate of 77.3 percent.

Since 1976, fewer Blacks live in poverty – 29 percent in 1976 compared with 27 percent now. More Blacks have graduated high school and college – 28 percent in 1976 and 33 percent today for high school, and 6 percent four decades ago versus 22 percent today for college.

Life expectancy of African-Americans has increased from 68 in 1976 to 75 today.

Homeownership and voting, however, continue to be major obstacles with 43 percent of African-Americans owning a home compared to the 43.7 percent that owned homes in 1976.

Voting is down considerably as 48.7 percent of African-Americans cast ballots in 1976 compared with just 39.7 percent today.

For the second year in a row, California’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metroplex is the best for Blacks when it comes to income equality compared to Whites.

An African-American worker makes 76 cents to every dollar a White worker makes in those cities, the highest ratio in the nation. For Latinos, Honolulu is the most promising for income equality: Hispanics make 80 cents for every dollar made by Whites.

Washington, D.C., and its suburbs are where Blacks, Whites and Hispanics have the highest median household income. Whites make $109,460, Hispanics make $66,523, and Blacks make $66,151.

The cities with the lowest Black unemployment rate are Oklahoma City and San Antonio at 8.3 percent. The city with the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate is Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a 4.6 unemployment rate.

Morial has put out the call for a major commitment from the government to rebuild the nation’s urban communities called the “Main Street Marshall Plan.”

He’s seeking $1 trillion over the next five years committed to several programs including universal early childhood education, homeownership strategies, high-speed broadband and technology, and a $15 per hour federal living wage indexed to inflation.

“While education is crucial, education alone is not going to solve the economic gaps in the country,” Morial said.

To view the full report, visit www.stateofblackamerica.org.