Why Communties, Not Just Individuals:  Black, Latino Median Wealth Is Headed Towards Zero

Some shocking news from a new study: not only is the wealth gap between black and Latino families vs white families not shrinking, it’s actually getting much worse.

Between 1983 and 2013, the wealth of median Black and Latino households decreased by 75% (from $6,800 to $1,700) and 50% (from $4,000 to $2,000), respectively, while median White household wealth rose by 14% (from $102,200 to $116,800). If current trends continue, by 2020 median Black and Latino households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12%, respectively, of the wealth they held in 2013. In that same timeframe, median White household wealth would see an increase of 3%. Put differently, in just under four years from now, median White households are projected to own 86 and 68 times more wealth than Black and Latino households, respectively….

Earning a middle-class income does not guarantee middle-class economic security. White households in the middle-income quintile (those earning $37,201-$61,328 annually) own nearly eight times as much wealth ($86,100) as middle-income Black earners ($11,000) and ten times as much wealth as middle-income Latino earners ($8,600). This disconnect in income earned and wealth owned is visible across the entire income spectrum between these groups….

If the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed and is not exacerbated further over the next eight years, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053—about 10 years after it is projected that racial minorities will comprise the majority of the nation’s population. Median Latino household wealth is projected to hit zero twenty years later, or by 2073. In sharp contrast, median White household wealth would climb to $137,000 by 2053 and $147,000 by 2073.

This is another example of why it’s absolutely crucial that will we talk about access, we talk about communities and not just individuals. There are number of really terrific programs that are teaching folks across the country in poor communities how to code. That’s all to the good. But that was also true when the Internet started to take off. And yet African-American and Latino communities ended up with less wealth. We can’t repeat that mistake when it comes to robots, AI, and the other emerging tech that will dominate the economy in the next 20 years.

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