Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, a holiday meant to honor the life of one of, if not the most important figures in the fight for racial equality in this country.
Systemic racism and historical inequality have ingrained racial disparities into daily life in America. Black Americans are much more likely than white Americans to face serious financial hardship, be incarcerated, or have poor health outcomes.
While no area is free from discrimination or racial disparities, there are a number of U.S. metro areas where the differences are much more stark. In these areas, there are significant gaps in income, poverty, educational attainment, unemployment, and other measures between Black and white residents.
To determine the worst cities for Black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of eight variables measuring racial socioeconomic gaps in each of the nation’s 383 metropolitan areas. For each city we evaluated the gap between white and Black residents in poverty, high school and college education, income, homeownership, unemployment, mortality, and incarceration. Data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Of the 20 worst cities for Black Americans, 13 are located in the Midwest. Six are in the Northeast, and just one metro area is in the West. In each of these cities, white median household incomes are tens of thousands of dollars higher than Black median household incomes, and poverty rates are also much higher.
Black residents in these metro areas are much less likely to hold a high school diploma or college degree than white residents. Lower levels of high school attainment can drive down wages and make it more difficult to find a job. Unemployment rates are also far higher among the Black labor force than among the area’s white labor force. These are the states with the highest Black unemployment rates.
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