- New census data shows in which cities black household incomes have gained the most in the U.S.
- Cities tended to be located in the South and Mountain states.
- Though these cities experienced growth, income inequality is still high with African-American households earning less than white households and overall.
Reports on the American economy often tout the country’s year-over-year wage growth and expanding job market. Indeed, the U.S. added an impressive 222,000 more jobs in December 2018 — exceeding the expected 178,000 new positions — and another 304,000 in January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But although these statistics look great on paper, they tend to hide more complex social and economic differences lying underneath — especially when it comes to incomes by race and ethnicity.
African-American Households Are Earning More in Southern Cities
One of the critical areas that’s glossed over is ethnicity and related differences in economic circumstances. Incomes and employment are substantially different when comparing white and black households in America, even if overall these metrics have been improving.
In an effort to shine a light on these differences, GOBankingRates analyzed cities with 10,000 households or more, and calculated the change in the number of African-American households and their median incomes over the last five years, using data sourced from the Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.
Below are the major cities that saw the greatest increase in median household incomes and number of African-American households. Excluded were cities that saw declines in the number of black households.
The state with the most cities was Texas with six:
- Grand Prairie
- Fort Worth
|Black Households and Incomes: 2012 and 2017|
|City||2017 Black Households||2012 Black Households||5-Year Change in Black Households||2017 – Median Household Income||2012 – Median Household Income||5-Year Change in Income|
|Grand Prairie, Texas||14,942||12,082||23.7%||$64,725||$52,706||22.8%|
|St. Paul, Minn.||16,437||16,009||2.7%||$27,773||$23,083||20.3%|
|San Jose, Calif.||11,023||10,656||3.4%||$66,648||$55,746||19.6%|
|West Palm Beach, Fla.||12,173||10,789||12.8%||$38,928||$32,970||18.1%|
|Fort Worth, Texas||58,060||51,797||12.1%||$40,228||$35,150||14.4%|
A common and unsurprising theme among these cities are their economic prosperity and, for many of them, an up-and-coming vibe.
For example, in Tennessee, Nashville’s economy has been surging. According to POLICOM’s economic strength rankings, the city has the fourth strongest economy in the nation. Indeed, minority-owned businesses have been growing markedly in Nashville, according to WKRN, a local radio station. Not coincidentally, rising incomes and greater wealth lead to rising home prices, and as a result, Nashville’s cost of living has been rising quickly. Colorado Springs, Colo., is another example: The city’s hot housing market and prosperous business led to a seven-year high in terms of economic growth, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
All these cities have clear geographic patterns, too: With the exception of St. Paul, Minn., and San Jose, Calif., all these cities fall into the Census-designated South region (Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas), or in the Mountain division (Colorado).
Should African-Americans Move to These Cities?
One of the best features of nearly all these cities is their affordability. For African-Americans — and all Americans, really — moving to one of these cities could help protect their savings and hard-earned cash.
Consider Grand Prairie: According to Zillow, the median listing price for a home is $249,900, which is less than the U.S. overall median of $275,000. Based on Grand Prairie’s median African-American household income of $64,725, current local 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.23 percent, and a 20 percent down payment, owning a home would cost $1,273 a month — notably less than the current median rent in the U.S. of $1,625.
This affordability runs through much of the Southern cities that made the list, but cities like St. Paul are affordable too, boasting a median home price of $214,900, over $60,000 cheaper than the U.S. median price.
Racial Income Inequality Is Still Prevalent in the U.S.
Underlying all this, however, is a more troubling development. Many cities analyzed saw black household incomes grow over the last five years — but the number of black households actually declined. For example, Charleston, S.C., and Denver both saw median incomes increase 24.1 percent and 23.1 percent, respectively. However, the number of black households fell by 8 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The same goes for Knoxville, Tenn., (-4.1 percent); Pittsburgh, Penn., (-4.6 percent) and many others.
And on top of that, while all this growth in incomes and households is great, racial income inequality is still very apparent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income in the U.S. overall is $57,652, and a white household in the U.S. is $61,363. Compare that to the median income for African-American households of just $38,183.
Keep reading to see the places in the U.S. with the most income inequality.
More on the Economy
- The 3 Cities With the Fastest-Growing Incomes Are in the South
- Minimum Salary You Need to Be Happy in Every State
- Best and Worst States for Families to Live a Richer Life
- Watch: Best and Worst States for the Middle Class
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