The Racial Income Gap Narrowed in 2021, But There is Still a Long Way on the Road to Equality

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 2021 was $48,287. This is up from $45,870 in 2019. 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 2021, the median income figure was $77,999, up from $74,912 in 2020. Both Blacks and Whites saw a slight rebound in their median incomes in an economy ravaged by the global pandemic the year before. In 2021, the median Black household income was 61.9 percent of the median income of non-Hispanic White families. This is an increase from 59.7 percent in 2019 and 61.2 percent in 2020. However, with only minor fluctuations, the racial gap in median income has remained virtually unchanged for more than 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 12.9 percent of non-Hispanic White households in 2021 had incomes above $200,000. For Black households, 5.7 percent had incomes of more than $200,000. Thus, Whites are far more likely than Blacks to come from high-income households.

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