11 charts that track the progress America has made in racial equality - and all the visceral ways we still have left to go
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
- Employment and educational opportunities have increased for the US black population over the past few decades.
- However, data shows there is still wide inequality between the black and white populations.
- We put together 11 charts that highlight changes in the social and economic status of black Americans over time, including the unemployment rate, college attainment, and overall household wealth.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
February is Black History Month, when Americans celebrate the achievements of well-known black figures and the progress that has been made so far for the US black population.There have been improvements in different areas of living (such as black employment and earnings) since the 1960s, when many of the government tools tracking racial disparities were launched. For example, the number of black students earning a college degree has risen dramatically in the last several decades.Advertisement
Still, inequality persists. For instance, change in overall household wealth has been minimal for black families compared to their white neighbors.
The following 11 charts show just how much progress has been made over time in terms of earnings, employment, education, and politics - and how far we have left to go.
The unemployment rate for black Americans has declined in recent years, but remains higher than the white unemployment rate.
Change in household wealth over the past few decades has been minimal for black households compared to white households.Advertisement
One factor in the wealth gap between black and white Americans is student loan debt.
The average income for black Americans compared to white Americans has not changed much over the years.Advertisement
A big part of that income gap is the persistent and worsening wage gap between races. There has been a downward trend in recent years in the ratio of annual earnings for black Americans to those of white Americans.
The wage gap is even wider for black women.Advertisement
In most large US cities, it's harder for black children from poorer families to move up the economic ladder than for white children from similarly low-income families.
Some socioeconomic areas have seen progress, however. The share of black students earning college degrees has continued to grow since the 1960s.Advertisement
But challenges in educational opportunity remain. The percentage of black children earning a college degree among those whose parents only earned a high school diploma is low compared to other races.
African-Americans are still underrepresented at the top of the corporate ladder. A 2019 report said there were just five black CEOS among Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies.Advertisement
Some progress has been made in the world of politics. The current 116th Congress is the most racially diverse yet.
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