The persisting earnings gap has made it even more difficult for African Americans and Hispanics to catch up. In 2010, median earnings for black males were 32 percent lower than median earnings for their white counterparts. The earnings gap between white and Hispanic men grew from 29 to 42 percent between 1970 and 2010.
The earnings gap between black and white males has narrowed by only 7 percentage points in four decades.
This is a Tale of Two Americas
Since 1980, racial and ethnic disparities in poverty in the U.S. have remained largely unchanged, resulting in what the researchers characterize as “two Americas.”
Whereas blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are more likely to experience the high-poverty America, Asians and whites are more likely to experience the low-poverty America. One in four blacks, one in four Native Americans and one in five Hispanics are classified as poor. By contrast, only 1 in 10 whites and 1 in 10 Asians are poor. The authors note that whites make up most of the nation’s poor, but that is because there are more whites in the total population.
This disparity arises in part because of racial and ethnic gaps in employment, health and wealth
The employment rate for African American men has been 11 to 15 percentage points lower than that for whites in every month since January 2000. During the Great Recession, African American men’s employment rates fell further and recovered more slowly than did white men’s employment.
There are also profound racial disparities in illness and death. For example, blacks are two to three times more likely than whites to suffer from hypertension and diabetes, leading in turn to higher rates of cardiovascular disease.
In 2013, a white family’s median wealth was $141,900. The study states that, “for every dollar of wealth held by the median white family, the median African American family had less than 8 cents in wealth, and the median Hispanic family had less than 10 cents.”
The deck is stacked against blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans because they are dealt, as the report states, an immediate “one-two punch” at the very moment of birth. They are not just more likely to be born into families with less wealth, education and income, but they are also more likely to live in poor neighborhoods where high-quality schools are more difficult to find, crime is high and other amenities are unavailable.
The report states that simply equalizing starting conditions wouldn’t eliminate racial and ethnic inequalities, but would at least help reduce them. It is not enough to equalize starting conditions because blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are exposed later in their life to “educational, labor market and criminal justice institutions riddled with discriminatory practices.”
“It is nonetheless especially attractive to cut off at the source those processes of cumulative advantage and disadvantage that convert smaller differences early in life to larger ones in adulthood,” the report states.
“A distinctly American commitment,” said Grusky, “is that, when the race begins, everyone should be lined up at the same starting place.
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HPP CARES CDE's accomplishments these past few years have been significant and all-encompassing; striving to advocate under the National Coalition for Equities’ umbrella to maintain a powerful community voice among the Federal and State regulators and major private sector corporations to address public policy issues, and to focus on the wealth & income inequality affecting affordable homeownership and small business growth. With the NCFE, HPP CARES CDE’s outreach efforts have led to an increase in corporate social responsibility and consumer protection. We have been able to reach more people, collaborate with more companies, meet with more regulators, all in the name of helping deserving individuals become sustainable homebuyers, successful small business owners, protected consumers and empowering California communities. HPP CARES CDE is at the forefront of helping people of color become partners in our mission to reduce income and wealth inequality and build stronger futures for all minority groups.