African American Income

Black Median Household income: $41,361*
(all races $63,179)
All Black Workers 2018 weekly earnings: $769
(all races $969)
Black Men weekly earnings: $814
(All men $1070)
Black Women weekly earnings: $735
(All women $865)
SOURCE: 2019 annual averages: Bureau of Labor Statistics – 25 Years or Older & *2018 Census Bureau American Community Survey.

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NOTE: Middle class income has been re-categorized on this website as $50K to 150K from $35K to $100K using guidance from Pew Research Center (8/12/2020).

During the 1990s African American income grew tremendously. By 2000, about 44% of African American households had an annual income of $50K or more compared to just 22% in 1969. However due to the Great Recession which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 that number dropped to just 38% by 2010 reversing much of these gains. The most dramatic change during the Great Recession was the percentage of Black households making under $15K (from 18% in 2000 to 22% in 2012) which was well below the poverty line for most families. Although the economic rebound was slowest for the Black population, by 2018 Black median incomes grew closer to recovery and the Black upper class and wealthy grew to its biggest percentage ever. 

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Although incomes for African Americans have improved significantly since the Civil Rights era, they are still lower than the national average. For example the median income for Black families is $20 thousand a year less than the national median income. As you can see from the chart labeled ‘Black Family Income’ that Black married-couple families make more than twice that of Female householder families. This charts also indicates that there may be a substantial benefit for those in a married-couple family regardless of race or ethnicity. However we must also recognize that an increase in marriages between lower income couples would most likely lower the median income of married couple households not eliminating but reducing such benefit.   

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Wages by Education

African American median Income has increased since the Great Recession of 2008, however the racial gap persists. African Americans were the last major racial/ethnic group to start recovering from the recession. Another indication is the correlation between education and wages. Black men earn just about $200 (weekly) less than all men with the same education level including those with Bachelor’s and Advanced Degrees. Black women fair better earning about $100 less (weekly) than all women but Black women with an advanced degree are earning $63 more than all women per week. 

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