The Worst Cities For Black Americans

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15. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
> Black population: 1.6 million (16.9%)
> Black median income: $36,017 (47.3% of white income)
> Unemployment: 18.7% black; 5.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 39.9% black; 74.6% white

A history of exclusionary zoning, redlining, and discriminatory lending practices in Chicago throughout the 20th century has led to deeply entrenched segregation in the Midwestern metropolis and contributed to some of the largest racial disparities in income, education, and health of any U.S. metro area. While nationwide the typical black household earns 60.1% of the income the typical white household earns, in Chicago the typical black household earns just 47.3% of the typical white household’s income. Just 21.3% of black adults in Chicago have a college degree, less than half the 43.7% of white adults with a degree. Additionally, the black unemployment rate is more than three times the white unemployment rate.

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14. Rochester, NY
> Black population: 124,911 (11.5%)
> Black median income: $28,681 (48.7% of white income)
> Unemployment: 16.3% black; 5.4% white
> Homeownership rate: 32.3% black; 73.9% white

A recent report by the Civil Rights Project of the University of California, Los Angeles, found that segregation persists de facto in the Rochester metro area’s schools. From 1990 to 2010, white enrollment in Rochester’s inner-city public schools fell from more than 34% to just 15%. As white families relocated to the suburbs, the share of black students in urban Rochester schools climbed from 49% to 60%.

Segregated schools can perpetuate economic and social inequality. In Rochester just 78.8% of black adults have a high school diploma compared to 93.1% of white adults — nearly double the nationwide attainment gap. The median income for black area households of $28,681 a year is less than half the white median household income of $58,885 a year.

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13. Danville, IL
> Black population: 10,946 (13.7%)
> Black median income: $24,504 (52.1% of white income)
> Unemployment: 22.5% black; 8.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 31.0% black; 75.0% white

Danville is one of several metro areas in Illinois in which the gaps in income, education, and health between white and black residents are among the widest in the country. The typical black household earns $24,504 a year, about half the income the typical white household earns of $47,054 a year. Just 31.0% of black heads of household own their homes, compared to the white homeownership rate of 75.0%.

One factor contributing to the large disparities in income and homeownership in Danville may be the high unemployment rate among black workers in the area. According to recent Census figures, 22.5% of the black workforce in Danville is unemployed, the sixth highest share of any U.S. metro area and nearly three times the area’s 8.1% white unemployment rate.

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12. Trenton, NJ
> Black population: 75,905 (20.5%)
> Black median income: $43,393 (47.7% of white income)
> Unemployment: 15.6% black; 6.2% white
> Homeownership rate: 40.6% black; 76.3% white

In the Trenton metro area, gaps in socioeconomic measures such as income and poverty are partially rooted in disparities in educational attainment. While the 48.0% white college attainment rate in Trenton is far greater than the 33.8% national figure, the 18.2% black college attainment rate is below the 20.0% national figure. Those with lower educational attainment have lower earnings potential and are less likely to accumulate wealth over their lifetimes. The typical black household in Trenton earns $43,393 a year, less than half the median income for white households of $91,008 a year.

Trenton is the capital of the state with the largest black-white disparity in incarceration in the country. According to data from the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice reform advocacy group, black Americans are incarcerated at approximately five times the rate of white Americans nationwide. In New Jersey, the black incarceration rate is more than 12 times the rate for whites in the state.

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11. Springfield, IL
> Black population: 25,242 (12.0%)
> Black median income: $27,197 (43.9% of white income)
> Unemployment: 18.8% black; 5.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 30.6% black; 75.8% white

Across Illinois, black residents are nine times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated. A high incarceration rate can reduce the earning potential of affected families, and may be one of the many factors contributing to economic and social inequality in Illinois’ capital. The typical black household in Springfield earns $27,197 a year, less than half the median annual income of $61,976 for white households. A criminal record can also reduce the likelihood of finding employment, and the unemployment rate among black workers in Springfield stands at 18.8%, more than triple the white unemployment rate of 5.8%.