State of Black America

The State of Black America®, the National Urban League’s seminal annual publication now in its 40thedition, has become one of the most highly-anticipated benchmarks and sources for thought leadership around racial equality in America across economics, employment, education, health, housing, criminal justice and civic participation.  Each edition of the State of Black America contains thoughtful commentary and insightful analysis from leading figures and thought leaders in politics, the corporate arena, NGOs, academia and popular culture. 

The State of Black America also includes the Equality Index, a quantitative tool for tracking racial equality in America, now in its 12th edition of the Black-White Index and its seventh edition of the Hispanic-White Index.  The 2016 report features the third edition of the metro Equality Index, ranking approximately 70 metro areas based on unemployment and income equality for Blacks and Hispanics.  New to the 2016 Equality Index is a special 40-year retrospective introduced to  commemorate the publication of the National Urban League’s first State of Black America report in 1976 and  compare  key Black-White Equality Index numbers over time.

The complete 2016 State of Black America report, including full data sets, ranking lists and articles, is available at www.stateofblackamerica.org.

Why DO WE publish an equality index?
Economic empowerment is the central theme of the National Urban League’s mission.  The Equality Index gives us a way to document progress towards this mission.

THE 2015 EQUALITY INDEX OF BLACK AMERICA IS
72.2%. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
That means that rather than having a whole pie (100%), which would mean full equality with whites in 2016, African Americans are missing about 28% of the pie. Similarly, a Hispanic Index of 77.8% indicates that more than 20% of the pie is missing for Hispanics.

WHAT IS THE EQUALITY INDEX TRYING TO DO?
Imagine if we were to summarize how well African Americans and Hispanics are doing compared to whites in the areas of economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement, and represent that by a pie.  The Equality Index measures the share of the pie that African Americans and Hispanics get. Whites are used as the benchmark because the history of race in America has created advantages for whites that continue to persist in many of the outcomes being measured.  Each category is weighted, based on the importance that we give to each (Figure 2).

IS IT POSSIBLE TO SEE HOW WELL AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HISPANICS ARE DOING IN EACH OF THE CATEGORIES?
Yes. We show this in the tables included with the Equality Index.  Each category can be represented by a mini-pie and interpreted in the same way as the total Equality Index. So, the index of 56.2% for the economics category for African Americans in 2016 means that African Americans are missing close to half of the economics mini-pie. 

It doesn't look like there's been much improvement in the Equality Index - what's the point?
The Equality Index is composed of many parts, so improvements in one area are sometimes offset by losses in another area, leaving the overall index unchanged.  The Equality Index offers solid evidence of how slowly change happens, and highlights the need for policies that fight inequality.