Opinion: Here's how to propel 2 million Black Americans to the middle class
Jun 18, 2021 1 min, 9 secs
In new research, we examined the disparities Black Americans face in various economic roles — as workers, business owners, savers, investors, consumers and residents.

We found critical gaps that prevent Black Americans from full participation in the US economy, significantly limiting Black economic mobility, and holding back the nation's economic recovery and potential in the process.

These structural issues have led to some of the gaps that exist today: 43% of Black workers earn less than $30,000 a year, while the median wage for all US workers is around $42,000; only 2% of private US firms with more than one employee are Black-owned; the median Black household has just one-eighth the wealth of the median White household; one in five Black households is situated in a food desert, defined by the USDA as a neighborhood with inadequate access to food; and average lifetime Social Security benefits are one-third lower for Black retirees than for White retirees.

Addressing racial pay gaps and representational imbalances in the labor market could boost Black incomes by 30%, employ one million additional Black workers, and boost Black consumer spending by about 40%.

In total, we find that addressing racial gaps presents an opportunity to propel two million Black Americans into the middle class for the first time, while transforming — and even extending — the lives of millions more.

While public investment is crucial to closing racial gaps, the private sector can drive rapid and dramatic progress.


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