Race, Not Job, Predicts Economic Outcomes For Black Households

DURHAM, N.C. — During the decade-long economic recovery following the Great Recession, Black households lost much more wealth than white families, regardless of class or profession, according to new research from Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center for Social Equity.

Notably, while most other groups experienced an economic recovery between 2010 and 2019, Black professionals suffered losses in wealth, the authors found. Meanwhile, Black working-class families remained in the worst overall economic position. As a result, many Black families entered the COVID-19 pandemic in a state of financial precarity.

“As the economy recovered, the typical Black household remained financially fragile and entered the COVID-19 crisis with less of a private safety net,” says co-author Fenaba Addo, an associate professor of public policy at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and faculty affiliate of the Cook Center. “By comparison, white working-class households had overwhelmingly middle-class levels of wealth — and were better positioned for the economic uncertainty the pandemic brought.”

The paper is available online in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.