Public Investments Improved the Economic Status of Black Americans, but Significant Barriers to Economic Opportunity and Security Remain
Federal investments in response to the pandemic recession have led to near-record low unemployment among Black workers, helped narrow racial disparities across the U.S. economy, and strengthened the economic standing of Black Americans. Strong job growth and historic low unemployment has led to significant gains for Black workers, including higher labor force participation and wage growth. The expansion of the Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan also helped lead to a record drop in poverty for Black Americans and children in 2021. Federal economic relief programs in 2021 also supported the sharpest increase in Black homeownership since the Great Recession.
Black Americans nonetheless continue to face major barriers to economic opportunity and security, resulting in persistent disparities in the labor market, poverty, and wealth. Black Americans remain nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as white workers. Discrimination in the labor market continues to limit the earnings of Black workers, particularly the earnings of Black women. As a result, Black families are nearly twice as likely as their white counterparts to fall below the poverty line.
The success of the expanded Child Tax Credit and other policies show that public investments can create economic opportunities for Black Americans and reduce the racial wealth gap. Evidence shows that investing in early childhood education and alleviating poverty for families will yield long-term benefits for Black families, while protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare will ensure economic security for millions of Black seniors.