As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, it is important to remember that African Americans continue to face many of the same inequalities today that Dr. King gave his life to fight for decades ago.
There are three major indicators by which we commonly measure racial economic inequality: median hourly wage, median household income and median family net worth or wealth.
In 2016, the most recent year for which all of these data are available:
the median black worker earned 75 percent of what the median white worker earned in an hour ($14.92 for black workers, $19.79 for white workers);
the median black household earned 61 percent of the income the median white household earned in a year ($39,490 for black households, $65,041 for white households);
and the value of net worth for the median black family was just 10 percent of the value for the median white family ($17,600 for black families, $171,000 for white families).
The differences in median household income and median family net worth are major indicators that we are a long way from remedying the vestiges of racism and the centuries of federal, state and local policies that created these disparities.