Report: No progress for African Americans on homeownership, unemployment and incarceration in 50 years

By Tracy Jan

NEW YORK, NY – A woman walks by housing projects in the crime ridden Brownsville section of Brooklyn. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Convened to examine the causes of civil unrest in black communities, the presidential commission issued a 1968 report with a stark conclusion: America was moving toward two societies, “one black, one white — separate and unequal.”

Fifty years after the historic Kerner Commission identified “white racism” as the key cause of “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing,” there has been no progress in how African Americans fare in comparison to whites when it comes to homeownership, unemployment and incarceration, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute released on Monday.

In some cases, African Americans are worse off today than they were before the civil rights movement culminated in laws barring housing and voter discrimination as well as racial segregation.

  • 7.5 percent of African Americans were unemployed in 2017, compared to 6.7 percent in 1968 — still roughly twice the white unemployment rate.
  • The rate of homeownership, one of the most important ways for working- and middle-class families to build wealth, has remained virtually unchanged for African Americans in the last 50 years. Black homeownership remains just over 40 percent, trailing 30 points behind whites, who have seen modest gains during that time.
  • The share of incarcerated African Americans has nearly tripled between 1968 and 2016 — one of the largest and most depressing developments in the last 50 years, especially for black men, researchers said. African Americans are 6.4 times more likely than whites to be jailed or imprisoned, compared to 5.4 times more likely in 1968.

“We have not seen progress because we still have not addressed the issue of racial inequality in this country,” said John Schmitt, an economist and vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, citing the<a class="colorbox" …read more

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