Special Report

Worst States for Black Americans


To determine the 10 worst states for black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of 10 measures to assess racial gaps in access to resources and opportunities in each state. Creating the index in this way highlights disparities between racial groups, rather than what may be particularly poor socioeconomic climates for both whites and blacks. For each measure, we constructed an index from the gaps between black and white Americans. The index was standardized using min-max normalization. We excluded states where black residents comprise less than 5% of the population.

To construct the index, we used 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) on median household income, poverty, high school and bachelor’s educational attainment rates, and homeownership rates — each broken out by race. Unemployment rates for 2014 come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Incarceration rates came from the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based think tank, and are as of 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. Also from 2010, the percentage of the population that is disenfranchised comes from the Sentencing Project. From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we considered age-adjusted mortality rates and infant mortality rates.