The Persistent Racial Income Gap Hinders Black Access to Higher Education

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 2017 was $40,258. This is up from $39,490 in 2016. 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 2017, the median income figure was $68,145, up from $65,041 in 2016. So while income levels increased for both Black and White households, the increase was more for Whites than for Blacks. Thus, the racial income gap widened. The median income level for Black households in 2016 was 60.7 percent of the median income for non-Hispanic White households. In 2017, the median Black family income was 59.1 percent of the median income for White families. 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 8.9 percent of non-Hispanic White households in 2017 had incomes above $200,000. For Black households, 3.1 percent had incomes of more than $200,000. Thus, Whites are nearly three times as likely as Blacks to come from high-income households.

Related Articles

1 COMMENT

  1. Please include the Asian demographic data as well. They are higher and rapid growth. Perhaps a better bar than whites. Also data would be more telling if families were adjusted for parents’ education level, and perhaps too difficult, what occupation the bread winner(s) are employed in. The skilled usually make more than the unskilled and semiskilled. That would provide a clearer understanding.
    Note 3 factors that obscure strictly racial conclusions; 1) older workers have greater incomes than younger workers with those older workers incomes are increasing where younger folks are shrinking slightly, 2) married couples do considerably better than non marrieds, especially single mothers, and 3) that the income growth occurred outside principle cities and metropolitan areas.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Johns Hopkins University Launches New Major and Center for Critical Study of Racism, Immigration, and Colonialism

The new Chloe Center for the Critical Study of Racism, Immigration, and Colonialism will provide research opportunities and educational events for the Johns Hopkins University community. As part of the new program, the university has announced a new undergraduate major in critical diaspora studies.

Chicago Library Receives $2 Million to Digitize Collection of African American History and Literature

The Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection housed within the Chicago Public Library will soon be available online to the public thanks to a $2 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Online Articles That May Be of Interest to JBHE Readers

Each week, JBHE will provide links to online articles that may be of interest to our readers. Here are this week’s selections.

Recent Books of Interest to African American Scholars

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education regularly publishes a list of new books that may be of interest to our readers. The books included are on a wide variety of subjects and present many different points of view.

Featured Jobs