The Worst States For Black Americans: Every State Ranked

During the 1960s, Americans across the country boycotted, sat, and marched to protest discrimination, segregation, and disenfranchisement of African Americans. The consequential Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 ended the Jim Crow laws that upheld segregation, but centuries of rooted racism and practices do not change overnight. Even today, structural racism remains very much alive and well in the United States.

In the past few years, many Americans have once again taken to the streets to call attention to the racial achievement gaps that persist in cities and states across the country, and to protest racial inequality at all levels. To identify the worst states for Black Americans, 24/7 Wall St. used census and other agencies data to create an index that measures racial gaps in income, poverty, education, homeownership, and opportunity in all 50 states. It is important to note that this list does not rank the states based on the absolute socioeconomic conditions of Black Americans, but rather is on the socioeconomic gaps between the white and Black population in each state.

Nationwide, the typical black household earns just 63.1% of what the typical white household earns a year. Black Americans are more than twice as likely to live below the poverty line or be unemployed as white Americans and are nearly five times as likely to be incarcerated.

In some states, the racial gaps are far more pronounced. In Wisconsin, for example, the Black median household income is 49.9% of the white median household income — the largest income disparity of any state. Similarly, the disparities in poverty, mortality, educational attainment, homeownership, unemployment, and incarceration levels are some of the largest.

A bulk of the worst states for Black Americans are in the Midwest, where millions of Black Americans moved during the Great Migration of the early 20th century. Today, many areas in the Midwest are in economic decline that disproportionately affects minority workers. (Here are cities with the most Black-owned businesses.)

One of the biggest factors reinforcing racial inequality in the U.S. today is de facto residential segregation. While the Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed housing discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and religion, the legacy of redlining and other discriminatory housing policies, which effectively segregated Black Americans to certain neighborhoods, continue to shape the demographic composition of neighborhoods into the 21st century, limiting opportunities for Black Americans and widening achievement gaps by race. (Also see, the worst cities for Black Americans.)

Click here to see the worst states for Black Americans.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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