A project of the
Institute for Policy Studies

Racial Inequality

The most comprehensive data we have on racial inequality comes from the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances. The recently released latest edition, covering 2010, offers an updated glimpse into race and inequality against the yardsticks of both income and net worth.

The racial gap in median income has closed slightly over the last 20 years. Nonwhite families earned about half of what white families earned in 1989. This closed to 70 percent in 2007 and slipped back to 65 percent in 2010.

But the gap in assets runs much wider. White families claim about six times the net worth of non-white families, a gap that has changed little over the past generation.

The gap in median home value, for white and nonwhite homeowners, narrowed through the housing boom. In 2007, the median nonwhite-owned house held 90 percent of the value that the typical white-owned house held. But the crash saw a sharper decline in both nonwhite housing value and nonwhite rates of homeownership. In 2010, the median primary residence for all nonwhite families, not just homeowners, had about half the value of the homes of white families.