The (Poor) State of Black Families
Despite the progress African Americans have made on income and education, when it comes to marriage and families, the numbers are bleak.
The likelihood of having a family member with a job declined from 2007 to 2008 for white, black and Hispanic families. Asian families remained the most likely to have an employed family member (90 percent) in 2008, followed by Hispanic families (87 percent) and white families (82 percent). Black families remained the least likely to have an employed family member (78 percent).
Historically, black mothers with children under 18 have been more likely than white mothers with children under 18 to work. In 2008, 76.7 percent of black mothers worked, compared with 70.8 percent of white mothers. In 2008, 61.4 percent of Hispanic mothers and 68.8 percent of Asian mothers worked.
Single-Mom Homes = A Poor Family
Black married-couple families have a median income of more than $65,000 a year, the lowest for all races.
But the median income for a black family headed by a woman is about $26,000 a year. The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,000 a year.
Nearly half of young black children living with their mom are poor. "They are going to start out in poverty. They will go to schools that are failing or will be labeled as failing,” Roderick Harrison, the founding director of DataBank at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, said when I first wrote about black families in 2008. "At 17, they are three years behind the white students." The gaps don't get closed by the education system—this leads to the higher dropout rates, higher unemployment rates and single parenthood again, he said.
As candidate Barack Obama, who was raised by his mother and grandparents, said in his June 2008 Father's Day speech: "... if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it."