Household new worth gap grows between whites, other groups

Wealth Gap: Net Worth of White Households 22 Times Higher Than Blacks

The wealth gap between black and white Americans nearly doubled during the recession, leaving white households with an average net worth 22 times higher than blacks.

Census Bureau figures showed that the median household net worth for whites reached $110,729 in 2010, with black households having just $4,995 during that same period, CNN reported. The gap is nearly as large between whites and Hispanics, who had a median household net worth of $7,424, CNN reported.

The gap between whites and their black and Hispanic counterparts grew larger during the recession of the late 2000s, with whites able to weather the conditions with much less financial damage. Black, Hispanic and Asian households all saw net worth drop roughly 60 percent between 2005 and 2010, but whites saw their net worth slip only 22 percent. White households now have the highest net worth, surpassing Asians.

Tatjana Meschede, research director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University, told CNN that historically higher rates of unemployment, lower income and less education hurt Hispanic and black households.

The report also found that home equity is a larger percentage of net worth for blacks and Hispanics, and with these groups more likely to have high-cost subprime loans, home values and home ownership rates suffered more during the recession by comparison.

Blacks and Hispanics suffered other effects of the recession heavier as well, the political blog Think Progress reported. The loss of 600,000 public sector jobs was particularly hard on these groups, which are more likely than whites to hold government jobs, the report said. The high unemployment rate is also hard on these groups, which traditionally have rates higher than 10 percent even during good economic conditions.

The current wealth gap will continue to have an impact on blacks and Hispanics in the future, Roderick Harrison, senior research scientist at Howard University, told CNN. With less wealth and home equity, these groups will have more difficult sending children to college, he added.

“The implications will be with us into the next generation, which will have greater difficulty in getting the kinds of jobs needed to start saving and building wealth,” Harrison told CNN.