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The Urban League’s "State of Black America 2018" Shows the Need for Homeownership and Retirement Policies

Algernon Austin

Today, the National Urban League released its annual report on the condition of black Americans, the State of Black America 2018. The publication includes the 14th edition of an index that tracks black-white equality on economic, health, educational, social justice, and civic engagement statistics. It also includes the ninth edition of a comparable index for Hispanic-white equality. In both of the indices, the economic disparity is one of the largest. These findings point to the need for the policies outlined in Everyone’s Economy: 25 Federal Policies to Lift Up Working People which has policies designed to address the economic challenges facing American families and the racism in the American economy.

The Urban League’s economic statistics show widening gaps in obtaining affordable loans for homeownership for both blacks and Latinos relative to whites. For black families the gap in investing in 401(k) retirement accounts has also increased. While the 401(k) difference narrowed for Latino families, Latino families still have the lowest rate of investment in 401(k)s of the three groups.

Everyone’s Economy calls on policymakers to “Make Homes Affordable for All.” Dēmos notes that each year the federal government spends the vast majority of its housing dollars on subsidies to the nation’s wealthiest households. Policymakers should rebalance the nation’s housing investments so that resources go to people who need them most. This policy would make homeownership more affordable for black and Latino families.

Everyone’s Economy also calls on policymakers to “Secure Retirement for All.” After a lifetime of hard work, many black and Latino workers will not be able to retire with dignity because they have little or no retirement savings. The low earnings of black and Latino workers also translate into lower Social Security benefits upon retirement. Policymakers can help working Americans retire with dignity by both strengthening workplace retirement accounts and Social Security. These policies are vital to keep black and Latino retirees out of poverty.

The National Urban League’s State of Black America 2018 is another reminder that we have a lot of work to do to see that the American economy works for all Americans.