Special Report

The Worst Cities for Black Americans

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5. Peoria, IL
> Black population: 35,463 (8.7% of total)
> Black median income: $27,977 (45.2% of white income)
> Unemployment: 16.2% (Black); 4.8% (white)
> Homeownership rate: 31.4% (Black); 76.5% (white)

The Peoria metro area is one of five metro areas at least partially located in Illinois to rank among the 20 worst for Black Americans. The median income for Black households is less than $28,000 — less than half of what the typical white household in the area earns. White residents are also more than twice as likely to own their home as Black residents, with a 76.5% to 31.4% homeownership rate disparity.

There is a strong association between income and educational attainment. The white high school attainment rate in Peoria is 93.3%, slightly above the white nationwide average. Black Peoria residents have a high school attainment rate of just 80.3%, well below the 86.0% Black high school attainment rate across the U.S.

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4. Springfield, IL
> Black population: 25,009 (12.0% of total)
> Black median income: $27,020 (40.1% of white income)
> Unemployment: 15.4% (Black); 4.4% (white)
> Homeownership rate: 28.6% (Black); 75.3% (white)

Springfield, Illinois, ranks as one of the worst places for Black Americans in large part because of the wide gap in the poverty rates of its white and Black area residents. Just 10.2% of white Springfield residents live in poverty, compared to 11.1% of white Americans overall. A significantly larger share, 39.2%, of Black residents live below the poverty line, well above the national black poverty rate of 23.0%.

Springfield also has one of the largest income gaps between Black and white residents. White households have a median income of $67,422. The median income of Black households is more than $40,000 lower, at $27,020.

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3. Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI
> Black population: 256,974 (16.3% of total)
> Black median income: $31,257 (42.3% of white income)
> Unemployment: 10.1% (Black); 2.9% (white)
> Homeownership rate: 27.0% (Black); 68.7% (white)

The Milwaukee metro area of Wisconsin ranks as one of the worst places for Black Americans. In addition to economic struggles, Black residents face significant health challenges, especially relative to white residents. The overall U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate is 723 deaths per 100,000 residents. For Black Milwaukee residents, the mortality rate is 1,046 deaths per 100,000, while for white residents it is just under 700 deaths per 100,000.

In Wisconsin, Black residents are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated as white residents. The Black incarceration rate is 2,764 per 100,000 — more than double the U.S. Black incarceration rate of 1,239 per 100,000. The white incarceration rate in Wisconsin is 415 per 100,000, slightly above the U.S. white incarceration rate.

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2. Racine, WI
> Black population: 21,610 (11.0% of total)
> Black median income: $25,751 (36.5% of white income)
> Unemployment: 9.7% (Black); 3.6% (white)
> Homeownership rate: 26.3% (Black); 74.0% (white)

The Racine, Wisconsin, metro area has one of the largest income gaps between white and Black residents of any U.S. metro area. The Black median annual household income is $25,751, just 36.5% of the white median household income of $70,589.

With this income disparity, Black Racine residents are also more than four times as likely to live below the poverty line as white residents. The area’s Black poverty rate is one of the highest in the nation at 35.3%, while the white poverty rate is relatively low, at 8.7%.

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1. St. Cloud, MN
> Black population: 11,768 (5.9% of total)
> Black median income: $26,585 (41.1% of white income)
> Unemployment: 17.2% (Black); 3.4% (white)
> Homeownership rate: 8.2% (Black); 72.3% (white)

The St. Cloud metro area of central Minnesota ranks as the worst city for Black Americans. A number of socioeconomic indicators are significantly better among white area residents than among Black residents. White households have a median annual income of $64,703, well more than double the Black median household income of $26,585. Fewer than 10% of white St. Cloud residents live below the poverty line, yet nearly half of all Black residents do, at 47.7%

The St. Cloud area has the second largest gap in Black and white high school attainment among all U.S. metro areas. The high school attainment rate is 94.0% for white adults, and it is just 60.7% for Black adults. This educational gap may contribute to the relatively high unemployment rate for Black members of the St. Cloud labor force. The area’s Black unemployment rate is one of the higher ones in the country, at 17.2%. The white unemployment rate is relatively low, at just 3.4%. For context, the comparable U.S. unemployment rate is 5.3%.

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