The gap in wealth between whites and blacks in the United States has been well documented. New figures suggest that the gap is now wider between whites and both blacks and Latinos:
The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels since the U.S. government began tabulating them a quarter-century ago. The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data…
“I am afraid that this pushes us back to what the Kerner Commission characterized as `two societies, separate and unequal,'” said Roderick Harrison, a former chief of racial statistics at the Census Bureau, referring to the 1960s presidential commission that examined U.S. race relations. “The great difference is that the second society has now become both black and Hispanic.”
The median wealth of white U.S. households in 2009 was $113,149, compared to $6,325 for Hispanics and $5,677 for blacks, according to the analysis released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. Those ratios, roughly 20 to 1 for blacks and 18 to 1 for Hispanics, far exceed the low mark of 7 to 1 for both groups reached in 1995, when the nation’s economic expansion lifted many low-income groups to the middle class…
Across all race and ethnic groups, the wealth gap between rich and poor widened. The share of wealth held by the top 10 percent of U.S. households increased from 49 percent in 2005 to 56 percent in 2009. The threshold for entry into the wealthiest top 10 percent, however, dipped lower: from $646,327 in 2005 to $598,435.
The American ideal, at least in theory, is that everyone has the chance to become at least middle-class through hard work and over the generations (though this new study in American Sociological Review suggests illegal immigrants may not experience this). This data suggests that this idea might have seemed more true in the boom periods of the 1990s and 2000s when a growing economy helped lift everyone’s boat. But, when an economic crisis hit, the numbers suggest all (or most) took a hit but some were hit more than others. All together, these boom periods helped obscure the inequalities in wealth that existed and were growing even though the big figures in the economy looked good.
I would think this should be of concern to all political parties.