The State of Communities of Color in Our Economy

A new CAP report shows that communities of color are still struggling to catch up with whites on many economic indicators.

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In 2010, communities of color comprised more than 36 percent of the U.S. population, but they are projected to be the majority of the nation’s population by 2043. As we rocket toward a more multiracial future, closing racial and ethnic gaps in earnings, education, and other requisite areas is imperative. While making these changes and addressing these issues will be challenging, what we stand to gain, both as individuals and as a nation, is enormous. In the recently published book All-In Nation: An America that Works for All, the Center for American Progress and PolicyLink present a road map for this equity-driven growth—a growth model that is inclusive, sustainable, and just and that ensures we grow together as a country, not apart. Analysis in All-In Nationshows that had we closed racial and ethnic gaps in 2011, average personal yearly income would have increased by 8.1 percent, tax revenue would have increased by $192 billion, and $1.2 trillion in gross domestic product, or GDP, would have been added to the U.S. economy, which would have benefited all Americans. What’s more, 13 million people would have been lifted out of poverty. That we could have—and should have—done so but did not speaks to the pressing need to reshape the conversation around equity in the United States.

Given the scope of what needs to be accomplished, every second counts. The economic downturn and financial crisis that occurred from December 2007 to June 2009, known as the Great Recession, upended domestic and world markets and decimated the global economy. Here at home, it negatively impacted the lives of millions of Americans, who saw their jobs disappear and their homes lost to foreclosure. We are currently in the fourth year of an economic recovery following the Great Recession, which began in June 2009, and the outlook continues to gradually improve, as economic growth is stabilizing and moderate job creation persists. That being said, America’s families, who have suffered for years from high and long-term unemployment, will remain in desperate need of stronger economic growth for a prolonged period in the foreseeable future.

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