Effects are greatest for men with freshman majors in education, professional and vocational technologies, the humanities, business, and the sciences, and for women in education, the sciences, or undeclared.Delays are robust to fluctuations in students’ in-school work hours, earnings, and job market conditions.They are a structural part of the economic system in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968 By the middle of the twenty-first century, the United States will be a “majority minority” nation.2 If we hope to ensure a strong middle class, historically the backbone of the national economy, then the financial health of households of color will become even more urgent than it is today.3 Closing the persistent “wealth divide” between white households and households of color, already a matter of social justice, must become a priority for broader economic policy.
Effects for high school graduation are most pronounced among black women, while increases in associate’s degree attainment are driven primarily by white and Hispanic women.
Wealth inequality is another source of great concern for the nation. Census Bureau finds that from 1979 to 2008, the real income of the poorest one-fifth of Americans decreased by 4 percent.
As noted previously, the median net worth of African American families is less than 10 percent that of white families.14 Since the Reagan era of the 1980s, the nation’s wealth has been increasingly concentrating in the hands of the richest Americans. For the middle one-fifth, real family income increased by 14 percent.
Immigrants of color who come to this country with fewer professional skills or without an elite education become part of the large share of the population that is being left behind by the wealthiest Americans.
In the last few years, a series of high-profile events, both tragedies (the killings of unarmed African American youth) and vulgarities (racial and ethnic slurs and stereotypes from NBA owners and presidential candidates) have reminded the American public of the reality that racial inequality and racism are far from a thing of the past.