Special Report

The Worst States for Black Americans

> Pct. residents black: 14.2%
> Black homeownership rate: 38.5% (25th highest)
> Black incarceration rate: 2,128 per 100,000 people (17th lowest)
> Black unemployment rate: 17.0% (3rd highest)
> Unemployment rate, all people: 9.1% (3rd highest)

Social and health outcomes for Illinois’ black residents are far worse than for white residents. As of 2013, 17% of black workers were unemployed, versus 9.1% of the state’s workforce. Also, the incarceration rate for black Americans in the state, at 2,128 per 100,000 people, was more than eight times that for white residents. Tragically, Illinois had one of the largest gaps in death rates between white and black Americans. As of 2012, the death rate for white residents was 711.8 per 100,000 people, far better than the 925.6 deaths per 100,000 black residents. According to data from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, as of 2010, Chicago was among the most segregated metro areas in the nation, despite considerable improvements in the past 20 years.

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3. Rhode Island
> Pct. residents black: 6.4%
> Black homeownership rate: 29.4% (10th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 1,884 per 100,000 people (11th lowest)
> Black unemployment rate: 16.0% (6th highest)
> Unemployment rate, all people: 9.2% (2nd highest)

While typical black households earned 62.3% of the white median household income across the nation, black Rhode Island households made just 52.5% of white households in the state. Such disadvantage can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including higher poverty and death rates. Last year, there were 234 more deaths per 100,000 people among the black population in Rhode Island than among the white population, nearly the largest gap nationwide. More than 23% of black Rhode Islanders lived in poverty last year, while less than 11% of white residents lived in poverty, a difference of than 12 percentage points, among the larger gaps nationwide. Another particularly detrimental area of inequality is the housing market. While 67.2% of white households in the state were homeowners, only 29.4% of black households were. The 38 percentage points was wider than the gap nationwide of nearly 30 percentage points.

2. Minnesota
> Pct. residents black: 5.4%
> Black homeownership rate: 25.7% (5th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 2,321 per 100,000 people (22nd lowest)
> Black unemployment rate: 15.0% (tied-11th lowest)
> Unemployment rate, all people: 4.9% (9th lowest)

A typical black household in Minnesota earned less than half the median income of white households in 2013, well below the 62.3% nationwide. Low incomes among the black population are likely due in part to a high unemployment rate. While 15% of black workers in the state were unemployed in 2013, fewer than 5% of the total workforce did not have a job, a gap nearly twice as large as the national gap. High unemployment rates tend to lead to higher rates of people without health insurance, as a majority of Americans receive health insurance through their employers. While only 6.9% of white residents did not have health insurance in 2013, nearly 33% of blacks were uninsured. Additionally, black Minnesotan households were three times less likely than white households to own their homes, a rate nearly twice as high as the rest of the nation. Across the country, black Americans were also more likely to be disenfranchised as a result of the criminal justice system. In 2013, more than 7% of Minnesota’s black population was barred from voting as a result of felony convictions or imprisonment.

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1. Wisconsin
> Pct. residents black: 6.2%
> Black homeownership rate: 28.1% (7th lowest)
> Black incarceration rate: 4,042 per 100,000 people (3rd highest)
> Black unemployment rate: 15.0% (tied-11th highest)
> Unemployment rate, all people: 6.7% (21st lowest)

Based on our index, Wisconsin is the worst state for black Americans. Typical black Wisconsin households made roughly half the white median household income, a wider income gap than in the majority of states. Wisconsin’s black residents were also far less likely than white residents to have health insurance, with a gap of more than 30 percentage points. Black Americans in Wisconsin are at a much greater risk of death than their white peers as well, which could be due in part to poor health coverage. There were 980 deaths per 100,000 people among Wisconsin’s black population — one of the highest rates nationwide. This figure represents 288 more deaths than the comparable rate for white residents, nearly the largest gap reviewed. Black Wisconsin residents were also nearly 10 times more likely than white residents to go to prison, nearly the largest gap. Black children in Wisconsin had worse educational outcomes than both their white classmates and their black peers in other states. Milwaukee led the nation of most racially-segregated U.S. cities, which may actually make the problem in Wisconsin more a problem for Milwaukee, where the vast majority of the state’s black population lives.

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