A New Report Finds Racial Inequality Persists 50 Years After The Civil Rights Act Of 1968
Graduation rates for black Americans have risen since 1968, but the unemployment rate has remained stagnant.
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After the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.s 1968 assassination sparked riots across the U.S., President Lyndon B. Johnson commissioned a report to examine the roots of unrest in black communities. The primary cause? White racism leading to discrimination in unemployment, education and housing, the report found.
Some 50 years later, despite milestones including the election of Americas first black president, the economic landscape has barely changed for black Americans, a new report released this week by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal, nonprofit Washington, D.C., think tank, found.
In almost all areas, it is about the same, and in other areas there is actually lost ground, said Valerie Wilson, director of the EPIs program on race, ethnicity and the economy and an author of the study. We have not seen nearly as much progress in economic outcomes as we might expect given the gains in other outcomes.
At 7.5%, the unemployment rate among African-Americans in 2017 was more than twice the rate of white unemployment and 0.8 percentage points higher than it was in 1968. That finding runs counter to the positive narrative about black unemployment that President Donald Trump presented during his State of the Union address.
Heres what else the EPI report found:
Other reports came to similar conclusions
Educational Attainment By State
The following map depicts educational attainment in the U.S. by state, according to the most recent American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Colorado have the highest percentages of adults with college degrees, all three with more than 50% of those 25 and over with an associate, bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.
Each of these also fell within the top 10 states/districts with the highest rates of employment in the U.S. The District of Columbia had the highest employment rate in 2019, with about 71% of the population over the age of 16 in the labor force.
At the other end, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi had the lowest percentages of adults with college degrees. In each state, less than one-third of the adult population holds a degree in higher education. These states also had the lowest employment rates, with each falling under 60%.
Educational Attainment By Race/ethnicity
There are clear disparities in the percentage of college degree-holders ages 25 and over among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
White Americans made up the overwhelming majority of those who hold college degrees in 2019, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the group. Black, Asian, Latino/a, and Native American individuals combined made up less than 30% of the population 25 and older who have earned a college degree.
This lack of equity in educational attainment has become increasingly concerning to experts because of its direct effects on employment and opportunities for people of color throughout the country.
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What Degrees Students Earn
In addition to understanding where students are earning their credentials, it is important to look at what they leave school prepared to do. What students major in is an important determinant of their future earnings and the diversity of the U.S. workforce across fields.
There are clear differences in the net returns of different types of credentials. While all types of postsecondary credentials can provide value, one recent review of the most rigorous evidence on the financial return of degrees and certificates shows a clear hierarchy. Bachelors degrees are the best investment, easily outearning their cost over a persons lifetime. Associate degrees also provide a substantial return on the money a student invests, though, on average, that return is lower than for bachelors degrees. Finally, there is some evidence of an immediate earnings boost from short-term credentialswhat this brief calls certificatesbut the value of this credential does not seem to persist over time.
Field of degree
Even when students earn bachelors degrees, what they study does not always offer the same life opportunities. There is wide variation in the job prospects and earning potential of graduates depending on their major. And beyond the labor market consequences for students, society has a strong interest in equitable representation of racial groups across occupations.
Representation for black students
Representation for Hispanic students
Disparities by gender and race
Us Census Bureau Releases New Educational Attainment Data
Today the U.S. Census Bureau released findings from the Educational Attainment in the United States: 2019 table package that uses statistics from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement to examine the educational attainment of adults age 25 and older by demographic and social characteristics, such as age, sex, race, nativity and disability status.
The Current Population Survey, sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the primary source of labor force statistics for the population of the United States.
No news release associated with these products. Tip sheet only.
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Gaps In State Attainment Goals And Degree Attainment For Black Adults
As states work toward their attainment goals in an effort to educate more residents and meet states growing workforce needs, we feel its important to examine attainment gaps by race and gender. Thirty-two of the 38 states in our analysis have set statewide degree attainment goals. But lagging attainment rates among Black women and men in each and every state suggest that most states will be hard-pressed to meet those goals . Our analysis indicates that every state has double-digit goal gaps i.e., the difference between the statewide goal and actual degree attainment for Black women and men. In Oregon and Minnesota, the goal gap for Black women is more than 40 percentage points. Meanwhile, in 29 of the 32 states with attainment goals, degree attainment for Black women is missing the state goal by more than 20 percentage points.
Black men are faring even worse. In 11 states , the goal gap for Black men is more than 40 percentage points. And in every single state, Black male attainment rates are missing state goals by over 20 percentage points.
If states are committed to hitting their goals and not leaving Black residents behind, they will need to improve the educational pipeline for Black residents. A critical look at K-12, higher education affordability, student supports and school counseling are needed to bridge these gaps.
Gender Gap In Literacy
Traditionally, girls have outperformed boys in reading and writing. Although this gap may be minimal in kindergarten, it grows as students continue their education. According to the 2004 National Reading Assessment measured by the US Department of Education, the gap between boys and girls, only slightly noticeable in 4th grade, left boys 14 points behind girls during their 12th grade year. On the 2008 test, female students continued to have higher average reading scores than male students at all three ages. The gap between male and female 4th graders was 7 points in 2008. By 12th grade, there was an 11-point gap between males and females.
On the 2002 National Writing Assessment, boys scored on average 17 points lower than girls in 4th grade. The average gap increased to 21 points by 8th grade and widened to 24 points by senior year in high school. In the more recent 2007 National Assessment of Writing Skills, female students continued to score higher than male students, though margins closed slightly from previous assessments. The average score for female eighth-graders was 20 points higher than males, down 1 point from the 2002 score. For twelfth-graders, females outscored males by 18 points as opposed to 24 points in 2002.
All of these assessments were conducted on a 100-point scale.
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Understanding African American Male College Graduation Rates In 2020
Recent and historical data shows that the African American male college graduation rate is lower than the national average. Universities have struggled to attract and retain well-prepared African American male college students. However, leaders and researchers focused on education have been making progress. Today, we understand what drives college graduation rates more than ever before, and we can use this information to better support students.
How do African American male college graduation rates compare to the national average?
According to data compiled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association , the African American male college graduation rate from 2010 to 2016 was 40%. By contrast, the six-year graduation rate among African American females was 49%. The same data reported the graduation rates for white students and Asian American students at 69% and 77% respectively.
These numbers indicate significant opportunity to improve the African American male college graduation rate, bringing the rate more in line with that of students from other racial backgrounds.
Why is it important to improve African American male college graduation rates?
The racial makeup of the United States is changing: in the next 20 years, minorities are projected to outnumber non-Hispanic whites in the US. Specifically, the African American population of the United States is growing at a rate more than double the growth rate of the non-Hispanic white population.
Educational Attainment By Race And Ethnicity
In 2017, more than four in 10 adults in the U.S. ages 25 and older had attained an associate degree or higher , followed by 28.8 percent whose highest level of education was completing high school, 16.3 percent who had some college but no degree, and 10.4 percent who had less than a high school education. However, large differences in attainment exist at all levels by racial and ethnic groups.
Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status ReportChapter One: Population Trends and Educational Attainment
U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2017
Notes:Data for American Indians or Alaska Natives with professional and doctoral degrees should be interpreted with caution. Ratio of standard error to estimate is > 30 percent but < 50 percent.
Data for Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders with professional and doctoral degrees should be interpreted with caution. Ratio of standard error is > 50 percent.
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Degree Attainment Among Black Women And Men In The States
National data on attainment by race and gender reveals significant gaps between Black and White women and men: Theres a 15 percentage point gap between Black and White women and an 18 percentage point gap between Black and White men. State-level data reveals that gaps are larger in some states. In this section, we examine state-level data on degree attainment for Black women and men in 38 states. We exclude states with fewer than 15,000 Black women or Black men, since degree attainment estimates for these small samples are less reliable. First, we examine state-level attainment for Black women and attainment gaps between them and White women then we do a similar analysis for Black men. Finally, we look at the differences in attainment between Black women and men in each state. State-level data on degree attainment for Black women and men are included in Tables A and B in the Appendix.
2018 Degree Attainment Among Black Women
2018 Degree Attainment Among Black Men
Attainment Gaps Between Black Women and Men
Lareau And Concerted Cultivation
Annette Lareau also addresses the factors that lead to social stratification in educational attainment. Lareau’s idea of concerted cultivation refers to an active involvement of parents in a child’s learning and development experiences by creating and controlling organized activities for their children. According to Lareau, middle-class parents engage in concerted cultivation to teach their children, while lower- and working-class parents do not. Laureau further explains that schools firmly encourage and expect parents to use concerted cultivation as a child-rearing strategy.
The child-rearing practices of lower- and working-class families thus do not comply with the standards of educational institutions. As a result, lower- and working-class students develop a sense of “distance, distrust, and constraint” in educational institutions, while children of middle-class families gain a sense of entitlement. These differences in child-rearing practices lead to children of lower- and working-class families to lack the necessary life skills that the children of the middle class possess, further isolating them from educational opportunities. In the United States, education attainment typically is viewed as a sign of social status.
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Trends In Us Study Abroad
Nationally, the number of U.S. students studying abroad for credit during the 2019-2020 academic year declined 53 percent from 347,099 students to 162,633 students as the COVID-19 pandemic halted study abroad participation starting in March 2020. The current total represents less than one percent of all U.S. students enrolled at institutions of higher education in the United States and less than 10 percent of U.S. college graduates. A 2014 survey found that almost 40% of companies surveyed missed international business opportunities because of a lack of internationally competent personnel. When 95% of consumers live outside of the United States, we cannot afford to ignore this essential aspect of higher education.
NAFSA has long advocated for policies such as the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act to expand the total number of U.S. students studying abroad, and increase the diversity of study abroad students to more closely match the undergraduate population, and encourage study in nontraditional locations.
The decentralized nature of U.S. higher education allows for considerable variance in study abroad participation from institution to institution and from state to state. NAFSAs breakdown of study abroad enrollment by state lets institutions and state leaders gauge how they compare with national trends.
Rising Educational Attainment Among Blacks Or African Americans In The Labor Force 1992 To 2018
In 1992, 42 percent of Blacks or African Americans age 25 and older in the labor force had completed at least some college . By 2018, 63 percent of Blacks in the labor force had completed at least some college.
In 2018, 31 percent of Blacks in the labor force had earned a bachelors degree and higher, compared with 16 percent in 1992. Another 32 percent of Blacks in the labor force had completed some college or an associate degree in 2018. Just 6 percent of Blacks age 25 and older in the labor force had less than a high school diploma in 2018, down from 18 percent in 1992.
In 2018, the unemployment rate for Blacks age 25 and older with less than a high school diploma was 10.4 percent. That was about three and a half times the rate for Blacks with a bachelors degree and higher .
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Positive Outcomes Sparked By Same
Having one black teacher in elementary school not only makes children more likely to graduate high schoolit also makes them significantly more likely to enroll in college.
Black students who’d had just one black teacher by third grade were 13 percent more likely to enroll in collegeand those who’d had two were 32 percent more likely. The findings, led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and American University, were published in a working paper titled “The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers” today by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Relatedly, another working paper by the same team titled “Teacher Expectations Matter,” also published today by NBER, found teachers’ beliefs about a student’s college potential can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Every 20 percent increase in a teacher’s expectations raised the actual chance of finishing college for white students by about 6 percent and 10 percent for black students. However, because black students had the strongest endorsements from black teachers, and black teachers are scarce, they have less chance to reap the benefit of high expectations than their white peers.
Both papers underscore mounting evidence that same race teachers benefit students and demonstrate that for black students in particular, positive outcomes sparked by the so-called role model effect can last into adulthood and potentially shrink the educational attainment gap.
Raising Undergraduate Degree Attainment Among Black Women And Men Takes On New Urgency Amid The Pandemic
This year has been like no other in the history of the United States. More than 550,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. That is more thanthe number of Americans killed in World Wars I and II combined. But the pandemics devastation has not been distributed equally. Communities of color have disproportionately borne the brunt of it. One in 1,000 Black Americans has died of COVID-19. And while the relative share of deaths among White people has increased in recent months, people of color have died at much higher rates over the last year. Communities of color have also been hardest hit by job and income losses amid the outbreak. Thats due, in no small part, to the historical legacy of slavery and racism on which America was built, and the uncomfortable truth laid bare by the pandemic that while slavery in the U.S. is no more, structural racism and racial disparities still run deep: They are longstanding, pervasive, systemic and intentional. And COVID-19 is exacerbating many of these already glaring disparities.
Its time for legislators, institutional leaders, and K-12 administrators to get serious about targeting resources, closing gaps, and improving opportunities for Black residents.
Educational Attainment Among Black Women and Men in the United States
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