The National Urban League’s latest “State of Black America” report is out — and African Americans are still playing catch-up to white Americans. According to the report, blacks lag in their efforts to reach parity with whites in key areas since 2010.
The annual report compiles an Equality Index for economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement. “Each category was assigned its own weight: economics receives 30 points, health and education each receive 25 points and social justice and civic engagement each receive 10 points,” reports The Milwaukee Courier.
When compared to whites, blacks scored 71.7 percent on the Equality Index in 2013, a drop from 72.1 percent in 2010. In those three years, African Americans saw decreases in economics (56.3 percent in 2013 vs. 57.9 percent in 2010), social justice (57.1 percent compared to 57.8 percent in 2010), and civic engagement (99.9 vs. 102.2 percent in 2010).
And it isn’t just whites that African Americans are trailing. They have fallen behind Hispanics who scored 75.6 percent on the Equality Index.
There were a few bright spots: Blacks made picked up points in education (79.6 percent vs. 78.3 percent in 2010) and health (76.9 percent vs. 76.7 percent in 2010).
“Educational attainment is where we see the biggest gains over the past half-century, thanks to affirmative action and early investments in educational programs such as Head Start,” wrote Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League.
“Today, there more than three times as many blacks attending college than there were 50 years ago and five times as many college graduates,” reports the newspaper.
But education hasn’t resulted in better jobs, found the report. “While education dramatically improves one’s chances of being employed— Black college graduates are 4.5 times less likely to be unemployed compared to Black high school dropouts—very little of the average difference between black and white unemployment rates can be explained by differences in education,” wrote Valerie Rawlston Wilson, chief economist for the National Urban League Policy Institute.
Beyond just reporting the numbers, the report has sparked several prominent African-American scholars to consider ways to close the gaps. In the report Frederick S. Humphries Jr., vice president of U.S. Government Affairs for the Microsoft Corporation, recommended a two-pronged approach to closing the skills gap that includes strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs across the country as well as supporting immigration reform policies that will spur job growth in the United States, writes the Courier.