African Americans worse off in 2011: study
WASHINGTON (AFP) – African Americans are worse off and have less access to health care than white Americans this year compared to 2010, an annual report released Thursday says.
In the 35th annual “State of Black America” report, the National Urban League (NUL) said African Americans have slid down on an “equality index” that ranks blacks against white Americans on issues ranging from income, home ownership, access to loans and health insurance, and education.
Black America fell to 71.5 percent on the equality index in 2011 compared to 72.1 percent last year, largely because of the slumping US economy, the NUL said.
“We have seen growing inequality in the poverty rate, the home ownership rate, educational attainment … and school enrollment rates,” since the equality index was added to the annual report in 2005, the NUL said.
More than one in five blacks has no health insurance, compared to 12 percent of whites, the report says.
And blacks continue to earn far less than whites. The median annual income for a black household in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics were available, was $33,463 while for whites it was $54,671.
Hispanics, who were given their own equality index with whites for the second year running, had a median yearly income of nearly $40,000.
More than a year after the official end of the worst economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression in the 1930s, blacks were still being disproportionately affected by unemployment, the report says.
Unemployment runs at 15 percent in the African American population, at eight percent among whites and 12 percent among Latinos, whose overall equality index with whites rose slightly compared to last year — from 76.6 percent to 76.8 percent.
But overall, Latinos still lag far behind their white American counterparts in terms of wealth, education, health and justice, with inequalities growing in the areas of loan access and college enrollment, the report said.
A 100 percent rating would indicate that inequalities had narrowed to such an extent that minorities were on equal footing with whites.
But that seems far off in the future, as in 2011, huge inequalities continue to divide minorities from whites.
In home ownership, for instance, less than half of blacks and Hispanics owned their own home, compared to three-quarters of white families, the report found.
In fact, the only areas in which inequalities have narrowed between minorities and whites are negative issues such as unemployment, lack of health insurance and the incarceration rate.
That “reflects a worsened condition for the population in general” as the United States tries to pull out of the economic slump, NUL president Marc Morial said.
“With every downturn in the economy, urban and minority communities fall further and further behind,” he said.
Morial also warned that the deep cuts to the federal budget which are being proposed by conservative Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill would bring with them the loss of up to 800,000 jobs, hitting minorities especially hard.