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The Daily Need

Study reveals historic highs in the racial wealth gap

Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released a study declaring that the housing market crash leading up to the economic recession widened the racial wealth gap between whites and minorities, particularly black and Hispanic Americans. Hispanics as a group faced the largest wealth decline during this period, with the median wealth of Hispanic households dropping by 66 percent. The Pew study, using data taken from U.S. census figures from 2005 to 2009, revealed that the current racial wealth gap caused by the recession is the widest it has been since the U.S. census began tracking data on wealth disparities in 1984.

At the Washington Examiner, political analyst Michael Barone writes:

Underneath these numbers are a lot of personal tragedies. And I think the nightmare experience of losing what seemed briefly to be significant wealth has the potential to reduce Hispanic immigration over the long haul.

MSNBC’s Sylvie Stein and Domenico Montanaro note that the trend seems to have had little impact on minorities in Obama’s support base:

Still, despite these data and Republicans, like Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney pointing out how minorities have been adversely affected in this economy, blacks and Hispanics appear firmly in Obama’s corner.

Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher issues a caveat about the figures:

Embedded in the wealth gap study is the fact that those median net worth figures for white households are horribly skewed by the fact that almost all of the richest people in America are white … The average white person isn’t actually doing twenty times better than the average black person.

Kai Wright at Colorlines magazine analyzes the more systemic causes of the wealth gap:

Black and Latino families are also far more likely to live in places crawling with expensive, deceptive consumer lending of all sorts, from car loans to refinance mortgages. They are more likely to turn to that lending because they make less money and because they already hold less wealth to cushion themselves in tough times. It’s an ugly cycle: inequality across the economy creates demand for predatory credit to bridge the gap, which in turn worsens inequality.

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