Disparities were measured for housing, education, health, social justice, and civic engagement, and the numbers find that the overall status of blacks is unchanged from 2004 at a rating of 73 points.
During the 1990s, the black population experience drops in unemployment and gains in income. But post-11 September 2001 (as the United States slid deep into a recession that has not until 2005 begun to ease,) black economic gains ceased. For the past four years, both blacks and Hispanics have lost 25 percent of their wealth, while whites increased their wealth slightly.
The median net worth of an black family was 11 percent that for a white family; and black family homeownership stood at 50 percent compared with 70 percent for white families, the report said. Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, called for the nation to "wake up."
"The growing wealth gap in this country is not just leaving behind Black America, it is leaving behind the middle class, urban America, rural America, and Hispanic America, too," Morial said. Black economic status measured 57 percent of whites, a gap of 20 points. Black unemployment held steady at 11 percent, while white unemployment was 4.7 percent, according to the National Urban League, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts white unemployment at 5.3 percent. Obesity rates for blacks are increasing, and life expectancy is 72 years old, versus 78 years old for whites.
High school drop out rates have increased in the past two years for all ethnicities, however for blacks only 77 percent the population finish school. The organization also says that blacks are three times more likely to become career prisoners once arrested, and the average sentence is six months longer than whites for the same type of crime.
For civic engagement, whereas one is involved in voter registration or government services, blacks participate more than whites by 8 points.
In assessment of the data, the National Urban League recommended a number of measures to improve the quality of life for blacks. First, it said the United States Congress should extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which is set to expire in 2007. Only portions of that Act are set to expire that year however.
It suggested raising the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour, but reflect future changes to economic expense requirements as opposed to government-said poverty indicators. Lowering home down payments, making mortgages more available, increasing business development funding , and doubling the size of the New Markets Tax Credit Program, where suggested measures.
Expand job training, career counseling, and re-entry programs for ex-felons; make full-day access to childcare, and set mandatory pre-schooling, where suggested to improve the quality of life for blacks.
"Since the 1960s, one of the success stories is the growth of the African-American middle class; those who are college-educated, participating throughout the American economy and growing in stature and influence," Morial said. "But what we face is that these successes of 40 years are being eroded. The danger is the great backslide that can occur."
In year 1960, black men earned 50-cents on the dollar to whites, income gaps have narrowed as the black middle class has grown and become more educated. In 2000, black men earned 64 cents on the dollar, according to Thomas Shapiro, a professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University who wrote the essay, The Racial Wealth Gap, in the National Urban League's report. Shapiro argues that income merely reflects recent advances.
Net worth shows how families accumulate gains and pass-on to the next generation. "Wealth really rounds the picture out and gives us a deeper perspective," said Shapiro. The median net worth of black versus white households remained unchanged for 10 years. In 2000, black households on average were worth $6,166 compared with $67,000 for whites.
Today, studies show, among blacks and whites with comparable credit histories, blacks are 60 percent more likely to be denied home loans as whites, he said. The report suggests that middle class blacks donate time and money to help alleviate inequality.
"Those who have achieved need to give back," Morial said.
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