Great Recession Doubled Wealth Gap Between Whites And African-Americans

The wealth gap between the rich and poor in the United States grew significantly during and after the Great Recession, so much so that America may have a greater disparity in wealth than even Ancient Rome once had.

New data from the Census Bureau, though, shows that the recession didn’t just grow the wealth gap between rich and poor; it also had a tremendous affect on the gap between different races. The wealth gap between whites and blacks nearly doubled during the recession, and whites now have 22 times as much household wealth as blacks. The gap also widened to 15-to-1 between whites and Latinos, CNN Money reports:

The median household net worth for whites was $110,729 in 2010, versus $4,995 for blacks, according to recently released Census Bureau figures.

The difference is similarly notable when it comes to Hispanics, who had a median household net worth of $7,424. The ratio between white and Hispanic wealth expanded to 15 to 1.

The Great Recession took its toll on millions of Americans, but its effects hit minorities hardest. The housing crisis was especially brutal for minorities, many of whom were pushed into bad mortgages by the nation’s biggest banks. The loss of 600,000 public sector jobs also hit hard, since black and Latino workers are more likely to hold government jobs than their white counterparts. Those layoffs have continued since the end of the recession as state and local budgets remain crunched.


And though the nation’s unemployment rate — currently at 8.2 percent — is abnormally high, that rate would represent generational lows for black and Latino workers. Even the 9.6 percent unemployment America experienced at the peak of the crisis would be an improvement for blacks, whose unemployment rate has rarely dipped below 10 percent in the last 50 years.