Special Report

The Worst Cities for Black Americans

This coming Monday is Juneteenth, a day when Black Americans across the country celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday, which originated with the emancipation of slaves in Texas, has come to be a nationwide celebration of the end of one of the country’s most terrible legacies. The holiday was first recognized nationally in 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Of course, even as slavery ended as a practice, the consequences of slavery and the systemic inequalities that have persisted from the days of Jim Crow and widespread institutionalized discrimination continue to this day.

Systemic racism and historical inequality have been passed on into 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 or discrimination, 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 identify the 20 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 metro areas. For each city we evaluated the gap between white and Black residents in poverty, high school and college education, homeownership, income, 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 far 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. (Also see: These are the cities with the most Black-owned businesses.)

Click here to see the worst cities for Black Americans
Click here to see our methodology

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