A Slight Improvement in the Still Large Racial Gap in Median Household Income

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its annual report on income in the United States. According to data in the report, the median income of Black households in the United States in 2016 was $39,490. The median income figure shows the point where half of all families earn below this level and half earn above this level. For non-Hispanic White households in 2016, the median income figure was $65,041. Thus, the median income level for Black households was 60.7 percent of the median income for non-Hispanic White households. The good news is that the median household income gap grew smaller in 2016 compared to 2015.  However, with only minor fluctuations, the racial gap in median income has remained virtually unchanged for nearly a half century.

It is also important to look at the racial gap in income at the highest levels. These families are ones that can afford to send their children to the college of their choice without having to worry about financial aid or student loans. Some 8.1 percent of non-Hispanic White households in 2016 had incomes above $200,000. For Black households, 2.7 percent had incomes of more than $200,000. Thus, Whites are three times as likely as Blacks to come from high-income households.

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