The racial wealth divide hurts the entire middle class

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad Chief of Race, Wealth, and Community, National Community Reinvestment Coalition

Americans are more aware than ever that America has a race problem — and, more specifically, a racial wealth divide problem. As researchers from the Institute for Policy Studies and I found earlier this year, median white families are 41 times wealthier than median Black families in the United States.

As our country becomes more diverse, this shocking racial wealth divide is no longer a challenge for disenfranchised minorities alone. It’s a threat to the entire American middle class.

Let me show you how.

Since the early 1980s, median wealth among Black and Latino families has been stuck at less than $10,000, while median white wealth has grown to $140,000. Yet in spite of this growing white wealth, this huge divide means that national median wealth has actually declined.

The racial wealth divide, in short, is weakening our country as a whole.

Contributing to this divide is ongoing racial inequality in the two largest assets in most Americans’ portfolios: business ownership and homeownership.

For the last 40 years, Black and Latino homeownership rates have stayed below 50 percent, while white homeownership has remained steady at about 70 percent.

And although 13 percent of the U.S. population is Black, only 2 percent of U.S. businesses employing more than one person are Black-owned. Hispanics are 17 percent of the population but own just 6 percent of these businesses.

How do we fix this? By making smart investments.

The white middle class was built by major investments promoting education and homeownership, among other things, after World War II. But African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans were almost entirely left out of these programs. Now these groups deserve significant investments of their own.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work