Black Americans Left Behind as Rights Milestone Nears: Economy

By | May 8, 2014

Half a century after the Civil Rights Act committed the federal government to narrowing the racial divide, black Americans are still being left behind.

Blacks remain less likely to climb the income ladder and more likely to drop than whites, according to research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last month. It also found that blacks will probably continue to suffer from lower mobility unless the causes of the disparities are addressed.

Such stagnation isn’t just troubling in the framework of American history — it’s bad for the economy, said Richard Reeves, a fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington. If blacks don’t have the opportunity to rise, income inequality will become more severe, labor markets more inefficient and welfare rolls more burdened.

“It’s nice to look at Obama and the higher-profile African Americans who have done well, but the U.S. is very far from being a post-racial society,” Reeves said in an interview. “Crudely, we can’t afford to maintain such sharp divides in the life chances of black and white Americans.” (Bloomberg)

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