MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New U.S. Census numbers out Thursday suggest that racial disparities in Minnesota are growing.
The median income for black households dropped nearly 15 percent — or about $4,500 in one year. Overall, the income in African-American homes is half that found in white and Asian households.
“The question everybody seems to be asking is why,” said Steven Belton, the interim president the Minneapolis Urban League. “I think the bigger question is: What are we going to do about it?”
The Minneapolis Urban League is an agency that works to empower black families.
“I think there are a lot of reasons why the income is lower,” Belton said. “The first thing you want to look at is what kind of jobs and what kind of education do people have. But I think when you get through all of that, there’s an opportunity gap. We talk about the achievement gap, but there’s clearly an opportunity gap.”
The census data shows that from 2013 to 2014, the median household income for white Minnesota families was about $64,000.
Black households brought in around $27,000.
“It is disheartening,” Belton said. “And it feels like it’s becoming an intractable problem, but I believe in hope. So I don’t believe it is intractable. I believe this community, the philanthropic community, the corporate community, government, if we get behind this, we can make it happen, but so far it’s been mostly lip service.”
What makes the drop in income for black Minnesotans really stand out is the fact that the household income for other racial groups pretty much stayed the same. Only black households saw a sharp decline.
The numbers mirror what’s happening in Minnesota schools. The standardized test scores of black students are lower than white students.
“We are aware of these disparities,” Belton said. “Everyone deplores these disparities in health and education, and access to resources. But what are we doing about it? It’s time we put our money where our mouths are.”
He added that Minnesotans are essentially living in two different states.
“The state that African Americans are living in is clearly is a state of poverty,” Belton said.
The median black household income in Minnesota is one of the lowest in the country, coming just behind Mississippi at 45th.