For the First Time in Its History, the State of Black America® Is an All-Digital Experience

March 19, 2015 (New York, NY) Today, the National Urban League releases its 39th edition of the State of Black America® – “Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice,” which underscores the urgency of each of these areas in America’s quest for full equality.

The world watched throughout 2014 as justice was challenged on every front – from the accountability of law enforcement for misconduct and the continual assault on voting rights, to widening economic gaps and partisan education debates more rooted in political agendas than in putting our children first. Simply put, the state of Black America is in crisis, and the State of Black America® report findings provide a sobering, but necessary, look at critical issues that need to be addressed – now.

As the National Urban League continues to press the case for closing growing divides in economic and education opportunity, this year’s State of Black America® presents the 2015 Equality IndexTM, one of the most critical and respected quantitative tools for tracking racial equality in America – now in its 11th edition for the Black-White Index and its sixth year for the Hispanic-White Index.

For the first time, the Equality IndexTM includes a special feature on state-level K-12 education, documenting the extent of Black-White and Hispanic-White achievement gaps in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The State Education Equality IndexTM also includes supporting data on factors that contribute to narrowing or widening these gaps, including teacher quality, pre-school and course enrollment, and student status and risk factors such as poverty.

For the second year, the Equality IndexTM also features rankings of U.S. cities from most-to-least equal via the Black-White Index (70 cities) and Hispanic- White Index (72 cities) – again providing a revealing look at local dynamics beneath national trends.

“The 2015 State of Black America® – ‘Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice’ – and its corresponding Equality IndexTM findings are a clarion call that a more comprehensive, inclusive and on-the-ground recovery is necessary to ensure a healthy future for our nation and that we cannot expect to successfully move forward when we are leaving so many behind,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League. “Few times in a nation’s history is its collective conscience shocked and awakened across racial, economic, generational and even ideological lines as ours has been over the past year. We are in that moment, and as long as justice is challenged on any front, we will keep pushing on every front.”

Through thought-provoking articles from Morial and a stellar line-up of contributors, the 2015 State of Black America® offers insightful solutions across critical areas including job creation, transportation, education, city revitalization, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and media images.

Contributing authors include: Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser; Film/Television Producer Debra Martin Chase; Attorney Benjamin Crump; U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx; Gary, IN Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson; NEA President Lily Eskelsen García; Radio One, Inc. President and CEO/TV One Chairman and CEO Alfred Liggins; Sacramento, CA Mayor/U.S. Conference of Mayors President Mayor Kevin Johnson; W.K. Kellogg Foundation President and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron; and “The Three Doctors” (Dr. Sampson Davis, Dr. Rameck Hunt and Dr. George Jenkins).

For the first time in its history, the State of Black America® is being presented in an all-digital edition that will offer a multimedia and social experience providing more interaction with readers, enhanced searchability, and year-round updates.

The full suite of 2015 State of Black America® offerings includes an e-book, featuring full data sets and analysis for each Equality IndexTM, full ranking lists, and complete articles; a seven-part Web Series, sponsored by AT&T, that gathers some of the nation’s leading influencers for discussions around the State of Black America® theme, topics and report content; and a new website – – which will serve as the digital hub for visitors to access select data and report findings, the Web Series, press materials, infographics and charts, e-book purchase information, and year-round updates featuring new contributors.

Key Findings — 2015 National Urban League Equality IndexTM

The 2015 Equality IndexTM of Black America stands at 72.2 percent, which means that Blacks experience less than three-fourths the quality of life experienced by white Americans, compared to 71.5 percent in 2014.

Relative to last year’s Equality IndexTM, the largest increases were in the areas of social justice (from 56.9% to 60.6%) and health (from 78.2% to 79.8%), with only a small increase in economics (from 55.4% to 55.8%). The education (from 76.7% to 76.1%) and civic engagement (from 104.7% to 104%) indexes both declined slightly:

– Black median household income is about 60% of that of whites – $34,815 vs. $57,684, respectively.

– African Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to be living in poverty. The poverty level Equality IndexTM for Black-White is 40%, with 27.6% of Blacks living in poverty vs. 11.1% of whites.

– With the Black-White Unemployment Equality IndexTM at 47%, the Black unemployment rate is more than double the white unemployment rate – with Blacks at 11.3% and whites at 5.3%.

– With an Equality IndexTM of 6%, Blacks have a median wealth of $6,314 vs. whites who have $110,500 – meaning the median African-American household has just 6 cents in wealth for every dollar of white household wealth.


The 2015 Equality IndexTM of Hispanic America increased from 75.8% in 2014 to 77.7% in 2015, resulting from improvements in all categories, except civic engagement, and indicating that Latinos are experiencing more than three-quarters of the quality of life America has to offer. The greatest gains were in social justice (from 66.1% to 72.7%) and health (from 102.4% to 106.9%), followed by education (from 73.2% to 74.6%) and economics (from 60.6% to 61.7%). The civic engagement index declined modestly from 71.2 percent to 71.0 percent.

– Latino median household income is 72% of that of whites – $41,508 vs. $57,684, respectively.

– Latinos are more than twice as likely as whites to be living in poverty. The poverty level Equality IndexTM for Hispanic-White is 45%, with 24.8% of Latinos living in poverty vs. 11.1% of whites.

– With Hispanic-White Unemployment Equality IndexTM at 71%, the Hispanic unemployment rate is 1.3 times higher than the white rate, with Hispanics at 7.4% and whites at 5.3%

– With an Equality IndexTM of 7%, Latinos have a median wealth of $7,683 vs. whites who have 110,500 – meaning the median Latino household has just 7 cents in wealth for every dollar of white household wealth.

The increase in the health index for both groups resulted in part from increased health care coverage since the Affordable Care Act went into effect.


Key Findings in the Metropolitan City Rankings  –  Unemployment Equality

– Of the 70 cities ranked, almost half (33) had a Black unemployment rate above 15%, with seven above 20%.

– At 65%, the smallest Black-White unemployment gap was in the Providence-Warwick, RI-MA metro where the Black unemployment rate was 13% and the white rate was 8.5%.

– The smallest Hispanic-White unemployment gap was in Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL with an Equality IndexTM of 148% where Latinos have a 5.8 unemployment rate vs. 8.6% for whites. (In addition to Deltona, there were four other metros with a Hispanic-White unemployment index greater than 100, indicating that the Hispanic unemployment rate was lower than the white unemployment rate.)

– In the Black-White and Hispanic-White rankings, only three of the cities in last year’s top 10 for each list were in this year’s top 10 – indicating differences in the pace of recovery across the country as metros at the top of the list average larger improvements in unemployment rates than those at the bottom.


Income Equality

– The highest median household income for Blacks ($64,663), whites ($108,254) and Latinos ($65,736) was in Washington-Arlington-Alexandra, DC-VA-MD-WV.


Notable Patterns Emerging in the State Education Equality IndexTM

–  The smallest gaps were commonly found in states with relatively small minority populations and in cases where test scores were relatively low for each group – white, Black or Hispanic.

– Higher graduation rates for Black and Latino students were also found in states where these groups are a smaller share of the population.

– On average, larger gaps were present in states with large urban areas that are home to large minority populations living in highly segregated neighborhoods with high rates of concentrated high poverty.

– With inequitable resourcing and the disproportionate impact of contributing factors such as poverty and teacher quality, African American and Latino children consistently fair worse in reading and math proficiency.

– Analysis identified significant Black-white-Latino gaps in education across the country, but the numbers reveal that the nation is struggling overall.

For more information about the 2015 State of Black America® – “Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs + Justice,” to access additional findings, videos and articles, or to purchase the e-book ($9.95) with complete index and ranking information, visit (#SaveOurCities)


About the Equality IndexTM

Economic empowerment is the central theme of the National Urban League’s mission. The Equality IndexTM provides a way to document progress towards this mission. It summarizes how well African Americans and Hispanics are doing, compared to whites, in the areas of economics (30%), health (25%), education (25%), social justice (10%) and civic engagement (10%) on a 100-point scale and measures the share which African Americans and Hispanics get. Whites are used as the benchmark because the history of race in America has created advantages for whites that continue to persist in many of the outcomes being measured.

The national data used to calculate the Equality IndexTM is reported in averages for each of the racial groups. Since the Equality IndexTM is made up of several different parts, improvements in one area are sometimes offset by losses in another area, leaving the overall index unchanged. Change often happens slowly. The Equality IndexTM offers solid evidence of just how slowly change happens, making it an important tool for driving policies needed in the ongoing fight against inequality. IHS Global Insight compiled the metropolitan index data by using American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau and the state education index data by using data from the OCR, NAEP, NCES, ACS, and College Board.

About the National Urban League

The National Urban League ( is an historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization dedicated to economic empowerment in historically underserved urban communities. Founded in 1910 and headquartered in New York City, the National Urban League improves the lives of more than two million people annually through direct service programs that are implemented locally by more than 90 Urban League affiliates in 300 communities across 36 states and the District of Columbia. The organization also conducts public policy research and advocacy activities from its D.C.-based Washington bureau. The National Urban League, a BBB-accredited organization, has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, placing it in the top 10 percent of all U.S. charities for adhering to good governance, fiscal responsibility and other best practices.