The Persistent Color of Money: Racial Wealth and Income Gaps

The Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances provides an updated glimpse of the persistent racial gaps in wealth and income.  The racial gap in median income has closed slightly over the last 20 years: nonwhite families earned about half of what white families earned in 1989–this closed to 70 percent in 2007 and slipped back to 65 percent in 2010.  But the gap in assets is much wider.   White families claim about 6 times the net worth of non-white families–a gap that has changed little over the past generation.  The gap in median home value, for white and nonwhite homeowners, narrowed through the housing boom: in 2007, the median value of a nonwhite-owned house was 90 percent that of a white-owned house.  But the crash saw a sharper decline in both nonwhite housing value and nonwhite rates of homeownership.  In 2010, the median value of the primary residence for all nonwhite families (not just homeowners) was about half that for all white families.

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