The wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled over the past 25 years, due largely to inequality in home ownership, income, education and inheritances, according to a study by Brandeis University. Researchers followed 1700 families over 25 years and found typical white households accumulated wealth on average of $236,500 in net worth in 2009, compared to black families at $28,500 in the United States. A shocking comparison and a quickly widening gap in America.
Although in Nevada, the black job unemployment gap, almost double that of white and Hispanic workers, helps drive the widening gap, home ownership is a large factor. Price appreciation is more limited in non-white neighborhoods, making it harder for blacks to build equity, and more often lack family financial assistance for down payments. Black families purchase homes on average eight years later than white homeowners.
Additionally, strapped with high interest rate student loans, four in five black students graduate with high debt, compared to 64% of whites, making it more difficult for them to begin accumulating wealth. Additionally, whites are five times more likely to inherit money than blacks, and that inheritance is typically ten times larger.
Unless Nevada and America aggressively deals with the growing wealth gap there will be wider ramifications. Thomas Shapiro, Director, Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University cautions, “If the pattern continues, people could start believing the deck is stacked against them. Our economy cannot sustain its growth in the face of this type of extreme wealth inequality," he said.
To discuss this issue, the Clark County Black Caucus and Nevada’s Lt Governor, Mark Hutchison recently co-hosted the African American Job Economic Summit in Las Vegas, bringing a coalition of public agencies, organizations, business and community leaders, advocates, and elected officials together. Nevada Chief Economist, Bill Anderson provided a report identifying disparity gaps amongst African Americans in Nevada, and employment sectors where opportunities may improve employment outcomes in the future. For more information about this event or future opportunities to participate in this discussion please visit www.CCBlackCaucus.com or email Yvette Williams at ClarkCountyBlackCaucus@gmail.com.
During this election season we must take the time to review the public record of those representing us, and if they are in fact serving our interest. It’s important that we encourage members within our own communities to consider seeking public office sensitive to neighborhood needs. Our future depends on who you choose at the ballot box. As we begin to “vet” candidates and evaluate their record, I hope you’ll consider the CCBC list of endorsed candidates running for office in next month’s edition when making your informed decision.