Race plays a major role in the access to economic opportunities and the ability to accumulate wealth, with Black Americans systematically disadvantaged across the U.S. But it seems some states have smaller economic gaps than others.
Nearly 19% of Black Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 7.3% of white Americans, according to the U.S. Census. Meanwhile, only 44% of Black Americans own a home, compared to 74.5% of white Americans. These disparities add up: American think tank Brookings found that the median net worth of a white family is nearly ten times greater than a Black family’s net worth — a difference of nearly $154,000.
This economic disparity is reflected in every locale in the country, though some states fare better than others, says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at personal finance resource site WalletHub. WalletHub scored all 50 states and the District of Columbia out of 100 points, ranking the state economies based on racial equality factors like annual household income, state unemployment rates, poverty rates, homeownership rates and homeless rates.
“Achieving racial equality can have a positive impact on the economy,” Gonzalez says. “Equal employment opportunities and equal wages could make the labor market stronger and more competitive, which can consequently contribute to economic security.”
Across each metric, WalletHub calculated the economic differences between white and Black Americans. For example, states like Hawaii and New Mexico had a smaller disparity between white and Black people’s median annual household incomes, and both of these states made it to the top 10. Likewise, Alaska and Hawaii had the smallest gaps in homeownership between white and Black Americans. Alaska had the most favorable score in the U.S., with 85.36.
Gonzalez notes that she was surprised by D.C. taking the number one worst spot, with a score of just 15 points. However, this may be because more urban regions tend to have a higher cost of living, making income gaps more detrimental to one’s overall buying power.
Here are 10 state economies with the most and least racial equality, according to WalletHub.