The wealth gap between Black families and their White counterparts is now the biggest it has ever been, a recent Pew Research Center study found.

According to the report, the median wealth of White households was nearly 20 times that of Black households and 18 times that of Spanish families, data gathered from 1984 to 2009 revealed. According to the data, the net wealth of a White household—defined as assets minus debts—was $113,149 in 2009, compared to $6,325 for Hispanic households and $5,677 for Black households.

The report also found that 35 percent of Black and 31 percent of Hispanic households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, versus just 15 percent of White households.

The data was compiled from the Pew Center’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, a questionnaire issued periodically to thousands of households across the country by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The reason for the wealth gaps are numerous, but one of them is a history of structural discrimination—that’s outright labor market discrimination and less access to education in communities of color,” Dr. Christian Weller, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress told the AFRO. “Those kind of things, over time has accumulated and held back communities of color and contributed to less wealth. Also, one of the biggest problems is the fact that Latinos, African-Americans and Asian Americans tend to be substantially less likely than Whites to have benefits from an employer. They do not have the same level of benefits in terms of pensions and healthcare.”

Weller said one solution to the staggering gap calls for officials to improve surveillance on racial discrimination in various areas.

“There’s a whole host of things we can do. The first thing is to have better financial market regulations and better enforcement of equal lending. We are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Services Employees International Union, said she believes one of the key solutions to solving problem is the proactive creation of new jobs.

“Instead of creating jobs that help workers provide a good life for their families, right-wing politicians are pushing job-killing policies and massive tax breaks for CEOs and millionaires,” Henry said in a statement. “Everyday it becomes clearer that we need to take a stand to create good jobs that help rebuild the middle class and help workers provide a strong future for their children. Close the wealth gaps with good jobs.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor