As the nation begins to show small signs of economic recovery, record high levels of unemployment and healthcare insecurity continue to devastate black communities that struggled in the best of times. In the 34th edition of the its State of Black America report, the National Urban League outlines plans to get African Americans back to work, insured, better educated and prepared to be major players in the industries that will fuel the economy and their future.
“Overall, African Americans have lost ground during the Great Recession, and disproportionately so,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial. “Unemployment has risen significantly and the subprime mortgage crisis has cost many people their homes. In addition, the total picture isn’t necessarily reflected in the statistical report, because the figures tend to lag a year or so.”
The report’s release is being streamed live and can be viewed here.
The report includes a series of essays by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Black Enterprise Board of Economist Bernard E. Anderson, and others that offer solutions to some of the most pressing economic and social concerns (healthcare, housing, unemployment, education, technology, and the green movement).
According to the report, not a lot has changed in the past year in terms of equality, and shows the status of blacks at 71.8% (up from 71.2% in 2009) compared with whites, according to the 2010 Equality Index.
In other categories of the index, except for civic engagement, there were minimal changes. Economics (unchanged from 2009 at 57.4%) and social justice (down to 57.1% from 57.2% last year) are the areas that show the greatest degree of inequality. The equality index for health moved from 76.8% in 2009 to 77% and education from 77% in 2009 to 77.6%). Civic engagement showed the greatest improvement, based on record turnout by African Americans during the 2008 presidential election.
Despite the debate about healthcare reform, 10.8% of whites, 19.1% of blacks and 30.7% of Hispanics are without health insurance, according to the report. In the education sector, for the population over 25, whites are more than one and a half times as likely as blacks and two and a half times likely as Hispanics to hold a bachelor’s degree. Relative to the 2009 Equality Index, ground has been lost on the college enrollment rates for 18-24 year old high school graduates (from 90% to 84%).
The report also includes a new equality index for Hispanics because, as Morial explained, they are a growing part of the population and there have been many requests to include similar information for this group.