Special Report

The Worst States for Black Americans


To determine the 10 worst states for black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of 12 measures from a variety of data sources. The index was designed to assess race-based gaps in access to resources and opportunities in each state, rather than measure the availability of resources and opportunities in those states. Creating the index in this way ensured that states were ranked based on differences between black and white Americans and not levels of socioeconomic development. We ranked the size of the race gap for each measure, with the largest gap receiving the worst score. We excluded states where black residents comprised less than 5% of the population.

To construct the index, we considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau on median household income, poverty rates, educational attainment rates, homeownership rates, and the percentage of people without health insurance. Unemployment figures came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on incarceration rates and disenfranchisement came from the The Sentencing Project and are for the most recent available year. We also considered age-adjusted death rates and infant mortality rates per 100,000 people from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, we considered an analysis of racially-segregated metropolitan areas authored by William Frey of the Brookings Institution in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Educational outcomes for African-American children came from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 report, Race for Results: building a path to opportunity for all children.

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