New Fed Data: Racial Wealth Gap Up Absolutely, Down Relatively

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Keith Cooper / Flickr

Using the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances (see our other coverage here and here), I have produced updated racial wealth gap figures below.

Mean Wealth

Here is mean wealth level by race.

Mean white wealth topped $900,000 for the first time in 2016. Black and Latino wealth also grew in the last 3 years but by a more modest amount.

If you divide black and Latino mean wealth by white mean wealth, you get this.

As you can see, the lines ticked up from 2013 to 2016, indicating a slight decline in the relative racial wealth gap.

Although the majority view is that median wealth (see below) is the best way to represent the relative racial wealth gap, I personally believe mean wealth is the best way to do it. Though it doesn’t really matter which you choose. They tell similar stories.

Median Wealth

Here is median wealth level by race. It shows the same basic trend as above, but the magnitudes are much lower and white median wealth still trails its 2007 peak.

The median family in every racial group remains worse off than they were in 2007.

Here is black and Latino median wealth as a percent of white median wealth.

Once again, the upticks indicate a slight decline in relative wealth gaps.