The Worst Cities for Black Americans

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7. Lima, OH
> Pct. residents black:
12.2%
> Population: 105,040
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 36.5%
> Black unemployment rate: 22.9%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 5.7%

The typical black household in Lima makes just 36.5% of what the typical area white household earns annually, a smaller share than anywhere else in the country. Median annual income among white households is $49,125, more than $31,000 greater than the median income among black households of $17,908. High poverty rates accompany the low income in Lima. While 12.4% of whites live in poverty, more than 46% of the city’s black population are living below the poverty line.

Socioeconomic disparities are likely driving the income gaps among Lima’s black and white populations. The unemployment rate among the city’s black workers is nearly 23%, more than triple the 7.1% rate among the city’s white workers. The difference in educational attainment by race is similarly striking. While more than 90% of white residents have at least a high school diploma, less than three quarters of Lima’s black population has a similar level of education.

6. Peoria, IL
> Pct. residents black:
9.1%
> Population: 379,520
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 49.1%
> Black unemployment rate: 16.5%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 7.2%

Located in central Illinois, Peoria is one of the worst cities in the country for black Americans. The poverty rate of 28.2% among the city’s black population is well above the poverty rate among the city’s white residents of 10.4%. Similarly, the median annual income of $58,563 for white households is more than double the annual income of $28,777 for a typical black household.

While black Americans are about five times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts, in Illinois, they are more than eight times more likely to be incarcerated than whites. As is the case in many other U.S. cities, the incarceration rate is likely far higher in urban areas such as Peoria.

5. Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI
> Pct. residents black:
6.5%
> Population: 1,027,703
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 44.6%
> Black unemployment rate: 13.0%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 5.0%

Slightly more than 1 million people live in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area. The typical black household in Grand Rapids earns $25,495 annually, less than half of the $57,186 the typical white household earns and also about $10,000 less than the $35,481 the typical American black household earns in a year. High income disparity between the area’s black and white residents has likely contributed to disparate poverty rates. About 38% of the black residents in Grand Rapids live in poverty, nearly four times the 10.3% poverty rate among the area’s white population.

Over 2,000 black people per 100,000 residents are incarcerated in Michigan, lower than the nationwide black incarceration rate. However, black Michigan residents are still nearly six times more likely than their white peers to go to jail or prison, slightly higher than the nationwide black to white incarceration ratio.

4. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
> Pct. residents black:
16.8%
> Population: 9,553,810
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 50.1%
> Black unemployment rate: 18.5%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 7.0%

Slightly more than 7% of white Chicago area residents live in poverty, while the poverty rate for the city’s black population is nearly 30%. Similarly, while 43.7% of white adults had at least a college degree, 21.8% of black adult Chicagoans were college educated. In addition to socioeconomic racial disparities, black area residents had far higher mortality rates compared to white residents. The Chicago metro area black population leads the nation with 1,550 deaths per 100,000 African Americans in a year, versus the mortality rate for white Chicagoans of 713 per 100,000 white people.

Chicago is one of the nation’s most diverse cities. It is also one of the nation’s most segregated, however, and in the city’s neighborhoods there is little racial diversity. Wilson explained that outcomes worsen for anyone — black or white — living under poor socioeconomic conditions. However, she added, not only do black urban dwellers suffer more under such conditions, but also racial inequality and segregation are themselves harmful to communities.