Economic Disparity Study

A new study shows African-Americans in Virginia are making economic progress, but a gap persists in their levels of employment and earnings.

Michelle Claibourn studies population trends at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, and she took a close look at census data for more than 50,000 Virginians.

Despite a history of discrimination against African Americans in this state, she found more of them were getting college degrees, but economic disparities persist. “Black adult Virginians with a college degree who work full time had a median income of $50,000.  White Virginians with a college degree who work full time had a median income of $60,000, so a $10,000 gap, which is about a 17% difference,” said Claibourn.

And, she says, a larger percentage of African-Americans are out of work. While unemployment for whites with a high school degree in 2010 was 15%, for blacks it was 22%, and you see those kinds of disparities across educational levels. Claibourn noted 20% of African Americans in Virginia had a college degree, compared to 37% of whites, and she concluded that history matters.

– Sandy Hausman

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