Demanding a Better Deal—2016 State of Black America

Demanding a Better Deal—2016 State of Black America

Source - Report 2016 Cover

The National Urban League has released its seminal, annual publication regarding the state of Black America last week—the 40th such report since 1976. 

According to the report, “Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California remained at the top of the Black-White Income Equality ranking again this year for the third year in a row, with the median Black household earning 76 cents for every dollar of median White household income.” In Ontario-Riverside-San Bernardino the average income for Blacks is $46,438 while the average for Whites is $60,668. 

Although the ability to earn 76 cents for every dollar earned by Whites in the Inland Empire appears better when compared to other areas in the nation where Black and White incomes are even less equal, (in Minneapolis-St. Paul- Bloomington, MN-WI, Blacks earned only 62 cents for every dollar earned by Whites); it is far from the economic parity African Americans have struggled to attain since emancipation. 

It has been forty years since the National Urban League published its first, breakthrough report that used the stark, unbiased reality of data to paint a statistical perspective of Black life in America. When the first such report was published in February 1976, the New York Times wrote, “The report on the State of Black America released last week by the National Urban League is a profoundly depressing document. Beyond the statistics it contains – gloomy enough by themselves – the report dramatizes a substantial failure of political leadership.” 

In the intervening forty years since the New York Times published its haunting assessment there is no question Black has made improvements in the aggregate; and yet this year’s findings show beyond dispute that significant disparities continue to exist particularly in relation to employment and income. 

This year’s executive summary included a forty-year retrospective that compared and contrasted a number of key issues between then and now. According to the report, in 1976 “Blacks were nearly twice as likely as Whites to be unemployed; the median Black household had only 59 cents for every dollar of income in the median White household; and African Americans were three times more likely to live in poverty than Whites.” 

In 1976, only 43.8 percent of Blacks earned high school diplomas; today an average of 86 percent of African Americans earn high school diplomas; while those with a bachelor’s degree or higher has more than tripled from 6.6 percent to 22.2 percent. 

It is noticeably incongruent however, that with these major gains in education, economic parity is still a dream too long deferred. This is particularly notable when it comes to the issue of unemployment. With few exceptions, the Black unemployment rate has consistently remained about “twice the White rate across time and at every level of education.” In addition, the income gap has remained basically unchanged and the gap in the rate of homeownership has actually grown by six percentage points—largely the result of the great recession. 

Published with the report is an open letter to the next president of the United States authored by National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial. The letter concerns this year’s State of Black America report particularly as it relates to the devastating impact of the great recession on members of the Black community and others. He wrote in part, “…Much more remains to be done. The benefits of the recovery have not reached the Main Streets of our most troubled communities. We cannot continue to rely on policies that have proven ineffective in communities with high unemployment and low income.” He continued. “You see we are not asking for a new deal; we are demanding a better deal. As a nation, we must focus our resources and efforts on the neighborhoods where they are most needed.” 

To view the report in detail visit http://soba.

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