Press Releases

JEC Releases National and State-Level Data on the Economic Status of Black Americans

This month is Black History Month, a time when we celebrate all that Black Americans have done to make our country a more perfect union. It is also a time when we reflect on the progress Black Americans have made—despite the scourge of systemic racism—and the challenges they continue to face.

Economic inequality is but one of these challenges—one that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown into sharp relief. In general, no matter how weak or strong the economy is, Black Americans experience far worse economic conditions than Whites or the population as a whole—higher levels of poverty, lower levels of wealth, recessionary unemployment levels, among other challenges.

Today, the Joint Economic Committee is releasing national and state-level facts, charts and tables about the economic status of Black Americans. These materials are intended to be a resource for Members of Congress, their staffs and others who seek to better understand and talk about economic inequality in a data-oriented way, and include four main components:

  1. A page of key facts at the national level that describe many of the most significant economic inequalities facing Black Americans
  2. A series of national graphs showing systemic inequalities with some written analysis to assist with interpretation.
  3. A series of state-level tables providing more granular data on the pre-pandemic position of Black Americans in the economy.
  4. For each of the 50 states, six graphs expressing measures of economic insecurity, including Americans’ confidence that they will be able to pay their rent, regularly can get enough to eat and whether or not they have lost income since March 2020. These graphs compare the responses of Black Americans at the state-level to national averages for Black Americans, in order to better illuminate differences across geographies.

The release of these materials is part of the Joint Economic Committee’s effort throughout the month of February and beyond to help Congress shine a light on the economic experiences of Black Americans. The effort began with the release of our recent MLK Day issue brief on racial disparities and will include analysis of student loan debt and other economic inequality issues. In addition, on February 12, the Committee will host an hour-long discussion for members and staff with Dr. William “Sandy” Darity, a leading expert on race and the economy.