Study shows disparities across broad socioeconomic indicators, outcomes

Washington, D.C. — Today, in recognition of Black History Month and in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) and the CBC released a new analysis of the impact of economic trends and barriers on Black Americans.


State and national data spanning the last 50 years highlight significant areas of economic progress among Black Americans. However, the data also make clear the persistence of structural and economic barriers facing Black workers and families that result in disparities across broad socioeconomic indicators and outcomes.


According to the analysis:

•    Black child poverty rates have been cut by nearly half since the 1980s, and the share of Black Americans living below the poverty line reached the lowest level since federal data collection began in 1959.

•    High school completion rates have risen significantly, and notably, the Black-white racial gap in high school graduation has nearly disappeared: In 2019, less than 6% of Black high school students dropped out of high school.

•    The share of Black adults with college degrees has more than doubled since 1990.

However, despite this progress:

•    White households have eight times the wealth of Black households, a result of historical disparities in asset ownership, unemployment, wages and intergenerational wealth transfers.

•    Black households earn just 62 cents for every dollar earned by white households.

•    Black Americans have consistently experienced unemployment rates that are nearly twice that of white Americans.


Additionally, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have disproportionately impacted Black workers and families, exacerbating existing gaps and threatening decades of progress. Investments to improve job quality and raise wages, lower household costs and remove barriers to wealth-building are key to addressing racial inequality and advancing shared prosperity.


“We recognize the contributions of Black Americans and work to confront structural barriers throughout the year, and Black History Month presents a specific opportunity to shine a light on both the progress to address racial disparities and the systemic racism that remains entrenched in our society and in our economy,” said JEC Chairman Don Beyer. “I am pleased to partner with Chairwoman Beatty and the Congressional Black Caucus on this important work, which makes clear the progress that has been made and the imperative that we in Congress do more to promote racial equality. In addition to directly harming Black workers and families, the effects of discrimination and inequities in income, wealth, health and education restrict the pathways to stronger and broad-based economic growth. We have before us a blueprint of the work we must do to build a more inclusive economy that values and honors the work of Black Americans.”


“As Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, a member of the Joint Economic Committee, and the first Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, I applaud the efforts made to compile this critical report. The gaps identified throughout this report do not lend themselves to quick fixes. Hundreds of years of structural exclusion and systemic oppression cannot be simply erased. However, the status quo is not tenable for Black Americans or for the US economy as a whole. This report aims to identify multiple entry points for action—and underscore the urgency of getting started. As a nation we must embrace the transformational powers of diversity and inclusion, and by harnessing the unique skills, tools, and talents of all people, at all levels in the private and public sectors, we can create a stronger economy and brighter futures for everyone,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty.


The JEC recently held hearings examining the racial wealth gap and the gender pay gap, with a particular focus on the “double gap” faced by Black women, who experience the effects of both the gender and racial wage gap.


The Congressional Black Caucus is committed to advancing Black families in the 21st Century through addressing the economic disparities that have plagued our communities for generations, creating opportunities that combat poverty, and closing the worsening racial wage and wealth gaps in America. The CBC supports policies that strengthen protections for workers and expand Black entrepreneurship, business development, partnerships and reports such as this one. The CBC will continue to champion economic justice for Black families throughout the nation, until true equity is achieved.



About the Congressional Black Caucus

Since its establishment in 1971, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has been committed to using the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the federal government to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States could achieve the American Dream. The Caucus is Chaired by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty. As part of this commitment, the CBC has fought for the past 48 years to empower these citizens and address their legislative concerns.


About Congressman Beyer 

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, where he chairs the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland and built a successful family business over the course of four decades. 


About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee 

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress.   


Washington Black History Month Congressional Black Caucus CBC JEC U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee Black Americans Chairman Don Beyer Chairwoman Beatty Congress Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Joint Economic Committee Chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee Diversity and Inclusion US economy Joyce Beatty

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