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Makin' Money

The wealth gap

Chris Farrell Sep 21, 2011

Here’s more financial damage from the Great Recession. The largest economic gap between blacks and whites isn’t income, but wealth. Sad to say–but hardly surprising–the Great Recession has made the wealth difference even worse, according to Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute.

Wealth for the median black household has nearly disappeared, falling from $6,300 in 1983 to $2,200 in 2009 – a decrease of more than 65 percent. This means half of black households have less than $2,200 in wealth. Among white households, median wealth has fallen substantially since 2007, but at $97,900, remains higher than the 1983 level of $94,100. White median wealth is now 44.5 times higher than black median wealth.

There are no easy answers for reversing the trend, but it has to happen. This interview by Marketplace’s Bob Moon of Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer–and MacArthur genius fellow–is a fascinating and important look at the issue.

Real progress in the American economy and society has long come from having savings and owning assets such as a home. It’s a wealth stake for current and future generations.

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