The Worst Cities for Black Americans

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3. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
> Pct. residents black:
7.8%
> Population: 3,495,176
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 37.9%
> Black unemployment rate: 12.8%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 3.9%

One of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is home to nearly 3.5 million people. It is also one of the worst cities for black Americans. The disparity between the median household incomes of white and black residents is especially stark. The typical white household earns about $73,700 annually, one of the highest incomes in the country. The typical area black household, meanwhile, earns just under $28,000 annually. Low wages often come with high unemployment rates. While only 3.9% of all Twin City residents are unemployed, one of the lowest figures in the country, the unemployment rate among the city’s black residents is 12.8%.

About 20% of the area’s black residents have at least a bachelor’s degree, roughly in line with the corresponding national rate. Still, more than 35% of the area’s black population lives in poverty, a significantly higher rate than the 27% of black Americans living below the poverty line.

2. Rockford, IL
> Pct. residents black:
11.1%
> Population: 342,411
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 44.2%
> Black unemployment rate: 28.9%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 8.3%

Located less than 100 miles northwest of Chicago, Rockford is home to about 342,400 people. Rockford is struggling economically. The area’s unemployment rate of 8.3% is more than 2 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. While poor economic conditions affect everyone, the city’s black population has been hit the hardest.

Of the 201 metro areas examined, the median income of $22,651 among black households in Rockford is lower than in all but 10 other cities and significantly lower than the $51,264 median income among white households. Even more astounding, 28.9% of the city’s black working population is unemployed, a larger share than in any other city in the country. The poverty rate among the city’s black residents is 43.1%, over four times the city’s white poverty rate.

1. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
> Pct. residents black:
16.7%
> Population: 1,572,245
> Black median household income as pct. of white: 41.6%
> Black unemployment rate: 17.2%
> Unemployment rate, all people: 6.0%

Like in other parts of the Midwest, large numbers of African Americans travelled to the Milwaukee area in the 1960s to take advantage of the booming manufacturing industry. Soon after a black community formed, however, the city’s industrial base all but collapsed, contributing to racial disparities in the region. An estimated 16.7% of the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis metro area identify as black, higher than the nationwide proportion. In Milwaukee proper, however, roughly 40% of the population identifies as black.

A recent report from researchers at UCLA found that African American high school students were more likely to be suspended in Wisconsin than in any other state. The plight of students in the Milwaukee area — the worst city for black Americans — is perhaps even worse. The difference between white and black high school attainment in the area, at 94.9% and 80.7% the respective adult populations, is 14.2 percentage points, nearly double the national average disparity. White area households are relatively wealthy compared to the nation, with a median income of $61,675. Black area households, on the other hand, are relatively poor, with a median income of just $25,646. This was one of the nation’s largest income disparities.