According to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average Black family in 2016 earned approximately $39,490. This makes Blacks the only racial group to have earned less than they did in the year 2000. In that year, the average Black family was earning $41,363 – which was adjusted for inflation in today’s dollars.
The data shows that other racial groups – Whites, Asians, and Hispanics saw their household incomes grow, even if it was just modestly.
The average American family earned approximately $59,039 in 2016, which was the highest ever recorded annual income by the Census Bureau. The average annual household income is an important benchmark because it’s an indicator of the financial health of the middle class.
While statistics show the overall economy has rebounded since the Great Recession of 2008, the hidden fact is that Black households as a collective group still have not recovered.
Research shows that the unemployment rate for Blacks is double that of whites, and Blacks are paid significantly less than similarly qualified whites and Asians.
The senior vice president of the nonprofit group Economic Mobility Pathways, Mary Coleman said, “Character, talent and insight are evident in individuals from all income classes. But not all individuals get an equal chance to prove their mettle.”
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Blacks have a more difficult time in finding jobs. The study showed that simply having an “African American sounding name” makes an employer less likely to hire someone.
One glaring fact the study pointed out is that 22 percent of Black families in the country lives in poverty, while compared to a 9 percent poverty rate for whites. When compared to other racial groups, Blacks had the lowest median household income at just over $39,000. This is compared to a median household income of over $47,000 for Hispanics, over $65,000 for whites, and over $81,000 for Asian households.
Data showed Blacks not only had lower average incomes, but were also less likely to have health insurance, own stocks and other investments, and own homes.
Williams Rodgers, chief economist at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, noted that today’s poverty gap is large than it was in 1979. He said, “Wage gaps are growing primarily because of discrimination.”
The one bright spot of the study was that Black families had the highest growth of income in 2016 with an increase of 6 percent. While this stat shows a step in the right direction, hundreds of years of racial discrimination has continued to leave Black families at a tremendous disadvantage.