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Black Lives Matter protest in Washington DC.
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NewsDemand Equity

How Big Is the Racial Equity Gap in the US and UK?

By Emma Batha

LONDON, April 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated racial inequalities in the United States and Britain, with Black-led social enterprises — businesses aimed at making the world a better place — now trying to level the playing field.

As the pandemic put Black people at greater risk of illness and income loss, Black Lives Matter protests, which swept the world last year, also exposed how systemic racism has left Black people with less wealth and poorer health.

Here are some facts as racial injustice is debated this week at the annual Skoll World Forum:

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United States

  • Nearly 47 million people identify their race as Black, about 14% of the population.
  • Black people are three times as likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people.
  • The racial unemployment gap has widened during the pandemic. The jobless rate for Black Americans is 9.6% compared to 5.4% for white Americans, up from 6.8% and 3.9% respectively in March 2020, according to government data.
  • The number of unemployed Black Americans has increased 40% since March 2020 compared to 34% for white Americans.
  • White families are 10 times wealthier than Black families, who had a median wealth of $17,000 in 2016, compared to $171,000 for white families.
  • Only 41% of Black households own their own homes, compared with nearly 72% for whites.
  • In 2019, the median Black household earned 61% of what the median white household earned.
  • Black households are two-and-a-half times more likely to experience food insecurity than white households.
  • More than half of Black business owners did not receive the amount of funding they requested from banks or other financial institutions, compared with about a quarter of whites, according to a 2018 study.

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United Kingdom

  • Black ethnic groups make up 3.3% of the population of England and Wales.
  • Black and Asian people are up to 50% more likely to die from COVID-19, according to official data.
  • Minority groups have also been hit harder by job losses. The unemployment rate for Black people was 13.8% compared to 4.5% for white people from October to December 2020, up from 8.7% and 3.4% for the same period in 2019, according to official data.
  • Overall, 28% of people in Black households are on a persistent low income compared to 12% in white households.
  • Nearly 27% of Black people live in overcrowded accommodation compared to 8.3% of white people.
  • Only 20% of Black African and 40% of Black Caribbean households own their own homes compared to 68% of white British.
  • Black graduates earn about 23% less on average than white graduates, and are almost twice as likely to be unemployed as their white peers a year after leaving college.
  • Black people are underrepresented in senior positions. There are no Black executives in any of the top three roles in FTSE 100 companies.

Sources include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pew Research Center, Public Health England, Office for National Statistics, Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; additional reporting by Jack Graham. Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)