Wealth Inequality Across Race and Class in 2019


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The triennial Survey of Consumer Finances released its 2019 data at yesterday. The new data gives me a chance to update my figures on racial and class wealth inequality in America.

Whites and Others Have More Wealth Overall

Among racial groups, blacks and Latinos have the least wealth overall, with the net worth of the mean black family standing at $139,800 and the net worth of the mean Latino family standing at $192,200.

On the other end of the spectrum, white families have a mean net worth of $951,300 while “other” families — a category that includes Asians, Native Americans, and anyone else not fitting into the other three groups — have a mean net worth just over $1 million.

Wealth Is Very Unevenly Distributed Within Each Race

These overall differences can obscure the reality of who actually owns the wealth of each racial group. In every racial group, the top 20 percent of families owns around 85 percent of the racial group’s wealth, while the bottom half of families own less than 3 percent.

White Upper Class, Multiracial Lower Class

When you put it all together, what you find is that the top of society, which owns almost all the wealth, is overwhelmingly white. The bottom half of society, which together own just 1.5 percent of the wealth, is thoroughly multiracial with whites making up a slim majority.

Given this arrangement of wealth in society, the no-brainer near-term solution to both class and racial inequality is to redistribute wealth from the top of society to the bottom half of society, which cuts down on both racial and class disparities simultaneously.