Snapshots of Black and White Disparities in Income, Wealth, Savings and More
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
Racial disparities have always existed when it comes to finances. LendingTree’s researchers have compiled the most readily available data on income, wealth, savings, employment, credit and education to provide snapshots of economic inequality between Black and white households. Here’s what we found.
- The average income for Black men is 33.7% lower than that of white men in America’s 50 largest metros. The average income for Black women is 17.5% lower than that of white women.
- The median net worth for Black people grew by 29% from 2013 to 2016 — the most recent three-year period for which data is available — despite falling substantially in the 2007-to-2010 and 2010-to-2013 periods. The median net worth for white people rose 17% in the 2013-to-2016 period.
- Black and white income gaps persist across different sectors. In finance and insurance — which includes occupations in banking, investing and insurance-related activities — Black people earn an average income 36.9% lower than that of white people. And in educational services — made up of teachers and professors at all education institutions — Black people earn 8.4% less on average.
- Across all income levels, Black adults are more than twice as likely to be denied credit (44%) or denied or approved for less than requested (57%) than their white counterparts at 19% and 24%, respectively.
- The average cumulative student loan debt borrowed by Black undergraduate students who graduated is $36,919, 20% more than the $30,731 borrowed by white undergraduates.
Snapshots by type
In the 50 largest U.S. metros, the average income for white men in 2018 was $105,323. That’s $35,527 more than the average for Black men ($69,796). Meanwhile, the average income for white women is $11,090 more than that of Black women ($63,252 versus $52,162).
The Black and white income gap across the U.S. has remained substantial since 1970:
- 1970: The median income for Black households was $30,400, compared with $54,100 for white households (a difference of $23,700)
- 2018: The median income for Black households was $51,600, compared with $84,600 for white households (a difference of $33,000)
Median net worth for Black and white people continues to fluctuate. Both races saw a similar drop in median net worth from 2017 to 2010 amid the Great Recession: 28% for Black people and 27% for white people.
Between 2010 and 2013, the median net worth for white people rebounded 1%, while Black people saw a 23% decrease in that time. Between 2013 and 2016, though, the median net worth for Black people drastically increased 29%, more than the 17% for white people in that same period.
Black families’ median and mean net worth in 2016 — the latest available info — was considerably lower than that of white families:
- Black families’ median net worth: $17,600
- White families’ median net worth: $171,000
- Black families’ mean net worth: $138,200
- White families’ mean net worth: $933,700
About 1 in 5 Black households have a net worth at or below zero as of 2016, compared with nearly 1 in 10 white households.
In April 2020, 73% of Black adults surveyed said they didn’t have an emergency fund to cover three months’ worth of expenses, compared with 47% of white adults.
Separately, 34% of Black families had retirement accounts — including 401(k) and individual retirement accounts — in 2016, while 60% of white families had these accounts.
The unemployment rate for white men and women 20 and older as of June 2020 is 9% and 10.3%, respectively, while it’s 16.3% and 14.1%, respectively, for Black men and women in the same age group.
In 2018, the employment-to-population ratio — the number of people employed compared to the total working population — was 58.3% for Black people and 60.7% for white people. By gender:
- Black men: 60.3%
- White men: 67.1%
- Black women: 56.6%
- White women: 54.5%
In 2019, 57% of Black families were denied credit or approved for less than they requested, compared with 24% of white families.
Breaking it down further: 58% of Black families making below $40,000 a year had their credit applications denied in 2019, compared with 40% of white families in the same income bracket.
Meanwhile, 86% of white families in 2019 were fully banked, but only 54% of Black families manage their finances through traditional financial services.
In 2019, 26% of Black student loan borrowers younger than 40 were behind on their payments, compared with 7% of white borrowers.
Meanwhile, 34.8% of Black students in 2017 had to borrow a cumulative amount of $40,843 or more for their undergraduate education. However, only 16.2% of white students had to take on this much debt.
2018 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 2020 Economic Policy Institute report, various Federal Reserve data, 2020 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis data, 2017 National Center for Education Statistics report, 2020 Pew Research Center report and U.S. Census Bureau. All data is the most recently available.