Economic inequality between whites and non-whites still persists in a variety of areas. The median net worth (assets minus debts) of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households – this gap has been increasing, not decreasing. In addition, the median income for blacks has consistently been below those of whites with the most recent data revealing the median income for whites is just over $54,500 while the median income for blacks is just over $32,000.


Despite the hopes of the American Dream, upward mobility is particularly difficult for people of color. Blacks also experience inequalities in employment. Two economists who conducted an experiment in the early 2000′s found that applicants with white-sounding names (ex. Emily and Greg) received 50% more callbacks for job interviews than applicants with black-sounding names (ex. Lakisha and Jamal) even when the applicant’s qualifications were identical (2). A separate study found that employers were more likely to callback Whites with a criminal record (17% offered an interview) than Blacks without a criminal record (14% offered an interview). Yet another study found that professors discriminate against students based on their names – with professors being more willing to provide guidance to students with white-sounding names than people with non-white sounding names.

Unemployment rates are consistently higher for blacks compared to whites. You can use this interactive tool to see the differences across time, by race, by gender, etc. When the recession hit, unemployment rates fell more for blacks than for whites – with Black men’s rate having fallen 5.6%, compared with 3.8% for White men.

Whites earn more than most minorities at all levels of education (though children of color experience disadvantages that impact them even before they enter school) and are disproportionately employed in management and professional occupations. Other trends also indicate that, while over 70% of White households owned their home in 2010, less than half of African American households did – a problem that has roots in the discriminatory practices of the past as well as the present. Even when people of color do own their homes, they have a higher risk of foreclosure.

Back to the beginner’s guide to racial inequality.