Special Report

The Worst States for Black Americans

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10. Pennsylvania
> Poverty rate: 26.0% Black, 9.7% white
> Homeownership rate: 43.2% Black, 73.3% white
> Unemployment rate: 11.1% Black, 4.4% white
> Median household income: $38,560 Black, $65,306 white

Pennsylvania ranks as the 10th worst state for Black Americans and the third worst in the Northeast. Segregation can fuel racial disparities, and Pennsylvania is one of the more heavily segregated states, with about 47% of Black residents living in majority Black communities. One area of significant racial disparity in Pennsylvania is in the state’s job market. Black unemployment is an estimated 11.1% in the state, well more than double the 4.4% white unemployment rate.

Disparities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Though only 10.7% of Pennsylvania’s population are Black, 46% of those incarcerated in the state are Black.

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9. Ohio
> Poverty rate: 29.6% Black, 11.1% white
> Homeownership rate: 35.6% Black, 71.7% white
> Unemployment rate: 11.5% Black, 4.3% white
> Median household income: $33,158 Black, $61,108 white

Ohio is home to several Rust Belt cities – such as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Dayton – that in the previous century, employed exclusionary housing covenants that entrenched segregated neighborhoods. As a result, Ohio remains one of the most segregated states in the country. Census data shows that 47% of Black Ohio residents live in majority Black neighborhoods. Segregation can lead to increased levels of inequity, and Ohio has some of the widest racial gaps in the country.

Some of the most glaring inequities in the state are economic. For example, the Black poverty rate of 29.6% in Ohio is nearly three times the 11.1% white poverty rate. Additionally, at 11.5%, Black unemployment is more than double the 4.3% white jobless rate.

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8. New Jersey
> Poverty rate: 17.3% Black, 7.8% white
> Homeownership rate: 38.9% Black, 71.4% white
> Unemployment rate: 9.8% Black, 4.7% white
> Median household income: $53,247 Black, $88,810 white

New Jersey ranks as the eighth worst state for Black Americans overall and the second worst in the Northeast. Its ranking is due in large part to disparities in some key health outcomes. For example, the infant mortality rate among the state’s Black population stands at 9.9 for every 1,000 live births, compared to 3.2 per 1,000 among white New Jersey residents – the largest such gap of any state.

Inequalities are not just health related, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Only 12.7% of New Jersey’s population are Black, while more than 60% of those incarcerated in correctional facilities in the state are Black, the largest such disparity of any state.

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7. Nebraska
> Poverty rate: 25.0% Black, 9.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 30.1% Black, 69.1% white
> Unemployment rate: 8.0% Black, 2.9% white
> Median household income: $35,976 Black, $63,641 white

Segregation can lead to unequal socioeconomic outcomes, and communities and schools in parts of Nebraska, including Omaha, have historically been, and continue to be, highly segregated. One of the most pronounced disparities in the state is in income. The typical Black household in the state earns just $35,976 a year, well below the median income of $63,641 among white households.

The state’s large income gaps along racial lines are attributable in part to inequality in the job market. Black unemployment in Nebraska stands at 8%, nearly triple the 2.9% white jobless rate.

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6. Connecticut
> Poverty rate: 17.9% Black, 7.6% white
> Homeownership rate: 39.4% Black, 72.5% white
> Unemployment rate: 10.4% Black, 5.0% white
> Median household income: $49,000 Black, $85,502 white

Connecticut has some of the worst income inequality in the United States – and inequality along racial lines is one contributing factor. The typical Black household in the state earns just $49,000 a year, about $36,500 less than the median income of $85,502 among white households in the state. Income inequality is driven in part by disparities in the labor market, as Black workers in Connecticut are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts.

Inequalities are not just economic, but also social – particularly with regard to law enforcement and the justice system. Black Connecticut residents are nearly 11 times more likely than white residents to be incarcerated in a state of federal correctional facility. Partially as a result, Connecticut ranks as the worst state for Black Americans in the Northeast.

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