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Black wealth is increasing, but so is the racial wealth gap

According to the latest data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the nation’s racial wealth gap increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2019 and 2022, median wealth increased by $51,800, but the racial wealth gap increased by $49,950—adding up to a total difference of $240,120 in wealth between the median white household and the median Black household.

The Survey of Consumer Finances is the most comprehensive survey on household wealth in the United States. Updated every three years, this data provides a representative outlook of our current and past economic landscapes, which is particularly helpful in capturing the economic realities of households during the onset, peak, and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though wealth increased across the board, the data discussed here shows that not all people are reaping the benefits. While housing equity increased for Black households, other components to wealth-building such as corporate and business equity did not, exacerbating the racial wealth gap. Centuries of discrimination in public policy, financial practices, and societal norms that limited Black wealth accumulation have not been overcome, and will require broad structural changes to rectify the long-lasting impact of inequality.

Wealth increases during the pandemic did not narrow the persistent racial wealth gap 2022, for every $100 in wealth held by white households, Black households held only $15.

Wealth measures the total value of assets a family owns (such as housing and business equity) minus their debts (such as student loans and credit card bills). During the COVID-19 pandemic, wealth increased unevenly. Median wealth, which provides an indication of a typical household’s financial security and capacity to invest in their future, increased at varied rates depending on race.

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