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 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 only considered states where black residents comprise at least 5% of the population, which excluded 19 states from the ranking.

To construct the index, we used 2015 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 2015 come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Incarceration rates and estimates of felony disenfranchisement are from the Sentencing Project, and are for 2014 and 2016, respectively. Age-adjusted estimates of infant mortality are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are pooled over the period 2012-2014. Also from the CDC we considered infant mortality rates for 2014.

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