10 Worst States for Black Americans

For two years in a row, 24/7 Wall St. has published “Worst States for Black Americans.” The story was recently expanded in an article titled “Black and White Inequality in All 50 States

,” which expanded the examination. This allowed us to revisit the list of 10 worst states for black Americans.

From the Black and White Inequality in All 50 States:

Racial differences in the United States are prevalent regardless of geography. While social and economic gaps are wider in some states than in others, the gaps exist across all areas, and we were unable to identify any states where black Americans are better off than white residents.


Across virtually all social and economic measures, there are wide racial disparities. Compared to white people in the United States, African Americans are considerably less likely to own their homes, twice as likely to be unemployed, nearly three times as likely to live in poverty, and five times more likely to go to prison.


Today, 71.0% of white individuals and families own their homes, in stark contrast with the black homeownership rate of 41.2%. In some states, the gap is considerably larger. In North Dakota, fewer than one in 10 black householders own their homes, while more than two in every three white individuals and families own the homes in which they live. The gap between the white and black homeownership rates in Maine, at 72.6% and 13.3%, is even wider.

This troubling ownership disparity speaks to the similarly wide racial wealth gap. Black families in the United States have only 5% as much wealth as white families.

These are the 10 Worst States for Black Americans, and the methodology:

10. Iowa
> Pct. residents black: 3.1% (13th lowest among all states)
> Black homeownership rate: 30.4% (15th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 3,473 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Black unemployment rate: 14.8% (the highest)

Compared with most states, there are relatively few black residents in Iowa. Compared to white state residents, African American Iowa residents are far more likely to live in poverty. The poverty rate among black state residents of 34.4% is higher than the national black poverty rate of 27.0%. It is also more than three times greater than the poverty rate among white residents of 10.5%, inline with the national white poverty rate of 10.8%. Similarly, the percentage of white laborers looking for work, at 3.2%, is lower than the national white unemployment rate of 4.6%. Meanwhile, 14.8% of black Iowan workers are unemployed, well above the national black unemployment rate of 9.6% — and more than 4.5 greater than the white jobless rate.

Iowa’s incarceration rate is even more divided along racial lines. For every 100,000 black Iowans, 3,473 are in prison, the eighth highest such rate of all states. For every 100,000 white residents, by contrast, only 324 are incarcerated, one of the lower such rates.

9. Nebraska
> Pct. residents black: 4.6% (19th lowest among all states)
> Black homeownership rate: 31.4% (18th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 2,452 per 100,000 (23rd highest)
> Black unemployment rate: 5.3% (10th lowest)

Compared with black residents in other states, African Americans living in Nebraska are relatively well educated and seem to have more job opportunities. The percentage of black adults with at least a bachelor’s degree and the percentage of black laborers out of a job, at 24.2% and 5.3%, respectively, are considerably better than the comparable rates across the nation.

While for many white Americans, a college degree and gainful employment all but guarantee good economic outcomes, like owning a home, for black Nebraska residents this does not appear to be the case. Just 31.4% of black householders own their homes, well below the national black homeownership rate of 41.2% and in stark contrast with the white Nebraska homeownership rate of 70.0%.

8. Colorado
> Pct. residents black: 3.8% (17th lowest among all states)
> Black homeownership rate: 35.9% (24th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 3,651 per 100,000 (5th highest)
> Black unemployment rate: 5.9% (11th lowest)

Colorado residents are among the most well-off in the country. As in every state, however, the prosperity is largely distributed along racial lines. The unemployment rate among black workers in the state, at 5.9%, is lower than the national black unemployment rate of 9.6%. However, it is still well above the jobless rates for whites both in Colorado and nationally, at 3.8% and 4.6%, respectively. Black Colorado residents are also far more likely to go to prison compared with their white peers. For every 100,000 black Colorado residents, 3,651 are in prison, the fifth highest figure compared with black populations of other states and several times greater than Colorado’s white incarceration rate of 509 per 100,000.

Economic disadvantages such as these can contribute to adverse health outcomes. For black mothers living in the state, the infant mortality rate is over 10 deaths per 1,000 live births — close to double the rate among white Colorado mothers and mirroring the national difference.

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