“In the last half century, I would say that for many indicators, things have stopped,” said Ellora Derenoncourt, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “The wealth gap, the income gap, the profit gap.”
The wealth gap narrowed somewhat in the middle years, until the economic crisis about a decade ago. More blacks became homeowners, but factors such as the continuing separation of homes meant that the value of their homes – and their net worth – did not increase as much as for white homeowners, said Edward Wolff, a professor of economics at the University of New York. York. Black families also tended to have higher levels of mortgage debt.
The mortgage crisis that caused the financial collapse turned these profits upside down. Housing ownership rates among blacks fell from almost 50% in 2004 to a low of 40% – a range in recent years – a level not seen since the 1960s, according to the Urban Institute. Congress enacted the 1968 law on fair housing with a view to banning racial discrimination.
“They fell much harder on white families than the collapse of house prices,” Wolff told Black homeowners. “Lower incomes plus a credit crunch meant they were left out of the housing market even after 2010.”
The median income of black households increased from the late 1960s to the 1970s after several federal reforms, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which barred discrimination in employment and created the Equal Employment Committee. This helped to reduce the difference between the average income of black and white families during this period, experts said.
Also, expanding the federal minimum wage coverage to agriculture, restaurants, nursing homes and other services – employing nearly a third of black workers – has helped reduce the pay gap between Black and White Americans during this period, he said. Derenoncourt, who researched the impact of the 1966 law on fair labor standards.
After that, the gap widened again as the Black Americans lost ground.
Researchers point to a number of factors to explain the reversal, including the weakening of federal efforts to combat structural racism and reduce unification, as well as an increase in the number of families run by unmarried mothers and imprisonment rates. And while black Americans are more educated, they are still represented in higher-paying, higher-paying positions.
By 2019, the average rate of profit between Black and White Americans had dropped to where it was in the 1970s for men and women, according to an analysis by Samuel Myers, Jr., director of the Center for Human Relations and Social Schools at Roy Wilkins Justice in University of Minnesota.
“We have not changed the mechanisms by which we reproduce wealth, by which we reproduce skills, by which we reproduce market results,” Myers said. “And it’s about the fight.”
One area where the racial divide has shrunk over the past five decades is poverty.
In 1970, there were almost four times as many non-Hispanic Black Americans in poverty as non-Hispanic White Americans. In 2018, the ratio was about 2.6.
A more consistent reduction in the gap began in the 1990s, a period of economic prosperity and a hot labor market. Also, some government programs for low- and middle-income Americans όπως such as income tax credit. Have been adapted to make work more attractive. Congress also revised prosperity in 1996, reducing assistance to families and prioritizing employment.
The trend continued even during the 2008 crisis, which has exacerbated economic hardship among all Americans in recent years.
However, about one in five black Americans live in poverty, said Christopher Wimer, co-director of the Center for Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University.
“While that has dropped a lot in the last 50 years, it’s still a surprisingly high number,” Wimer said.
Another area where the gap between races is narrowing is the share of each group employed. This difference has been reduced by almost half since 1972, although all the improvement has occurred in this decade, which has seen a steady increase in employment until the Corona pandemic occurred in March.
“In tight labor markets, previously excluded African Americans are now earning a living,” said Olugbenga Ajilore, a senior economist at the center-left for American Progress.
Until the outbreak, unemployment was below 50 for several months.
Still, the problems that plague black Americans for decades remain. The ongoing recruitment discrimination has doubled the unemployment rate for blacks to whites for a long time, Ajilore said.
“This positive season still had underlying issues, which this pandemic has clarified,” Ajilore said.