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Census figures show economic racial disparities persist

Has White House press spokesbot and former Faux News talking head Tony Snow seen these statistics? After all, he told us that racism is just so yesterday.

Census Bureau statistics recently released show that white households had incomes that were two-thirds higher than blacks and 40 percent higher than Hispanics last year.

Minorities are also less likely to own a home, which is the one marker of economic stability that creates wealth over generations.

“Race is so associated with class in the United States that it may not be direct discrimination, but it still matters indirectly,” said Dalton Conley, a sociology professor at New York University and the author of “Being Black, Living in the Red.”

“It doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful just because it’s indirect,” he said.

Home ownership grew among white middle-class families after World War II when access to credit and government programs made buying houses affordable. Black families were largely left out because of discrimination, and the effects are still being felt today, said Lance Freeman, assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University and author of “There Goes the ‘Hood.”

Home ownership creates wealth, which enables families to live in good neighborhoods with good schools. It also helps families finance college, which leads to better-paying jobs, perpetuating the cycle, Freeman said.

Some of the other findings that tell the tale of disparity.

* Black adults have narrowed the gap with white adults in earning high school diplomas, but the gap has widened for college degrees. Thirty percent of white adults had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2005, while 17 percent of black adults and 12 percent of Hispanic adults had degrees.

* The median income for white households was $50,622 last year. It was $30,939 for black households, $36,278 for Hispanic households and $60,367 for Asian households.


Graphic: The fabulous Mike Tidmus for the Blend

* Median income for black households has stayed about 60 percent of the income for white households since 1980. In dollar terms, the gap has grown from $18,123 to $19,683.

* Hispanic households made about 76 percent as much as white households in 1980. In 2005, it was 72 percent.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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