Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Wealth gap for Hispanics, blacks grows

Inequality continues to get worse in the US, particularly among people of color. As the AP reports:

The wealth gap between white families and blacks and Hispanics grew larger after the most recent recession, a private analysis of government data finds.

White households had a median net worth of greater than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times more than Hispanics and more than 14 times that of blacks, the Pew Hispanic Center said in a study being released today.

...According to the group's analysis of Census Bureau data, nearly one-third of black families and 26 percent of Hispanic families were in debt or had no net assets, compared with 11 percent of white families.

"Wealth is a measure of cumulative advantage or disadvantage," said Roderick Harrison, a researcher at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think tank that focuses on black issues. "The fact that black and Hispanic wealth is a fraction of white wealth also reflects a history of discrimination."

After accounting for inflation, net worth for white households increased 17 percent from 1996 to 2002 and rose for Hispanic homes by 14 percent to about $7,900. It decreased for blacks by 16 percent, to roughly $6,000.

Regardless of race and ethnicity, the median net worth for all U.S. households was $59,706 in 2002, a 12 percent gain from 1996.

From 2001 to 2002, only white homes recouped all their losses. Both Hispanics and blacks lost nearly 27 percent of net worth from 1999 to 2001; the next year Latinos had gained almost all back (26 percent), but blacks were up only about 5 percent.