A new report released by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander is shedding light on stark racial wealth disparities in New York State and City. As New York State considers establishing a commission on reparations, the report reveals racial disparities in net household wealth, home values, retirement savings, investment income, and student debt.
Earlier this year, the New York State Senate and the State Assembly passed bills to establish a state-level commission on reparations. The legislation, which is currently under consideration by Governor Hochul, is part od efforts around the country to confront the lasting impact of slavery and institutional racism on Black families’ ability to achieve economic security and build wealth.
“The data in our report show – in black and white – the persistence of a stark racial wealth gap in New York,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. “The median household net worth of white New Yorkers is nearly 15 times that of Black New Yorkers. The average white New York high school graduate has net worth three times greater than the average Black college graduate. These numbers add up to opportunities denied to millions of Black New Yorkers, wealth disparities perpetuated across generations, and a poorer city and state for all of us since inequality holds back economic growth for all.”
The report, Scoping the Racial Wealth Gap in New York State and City, analyzes data from the 2021 Survey of Income and Program Participation and the 2017-2021 American Community Survey.
The report found white households in New York State have a median household net worth of $276,900, nearly 15 times greater than Black households with net household worth of $18,870. New York State has a wider racial wealth gap than the United States as a whole, where the median white household net worth is $291,250 and the median Black household net worth is $31,370—a ratio of 9.3.
Discrepancies in wealth persist across educational levels in New York State. White New Yorkers with only a high school degree have a net worth over three times greater than Black New Yorkers with a bachelor's degree. Among those with bachelor's degrees in the state, 54% of Black New Yorkers have student debt compared to 28% of white New Yorkers.
These impacts continue for homeownership. While 63% of white New Yorkers own their homes, only 24% of Black New Yorkers do. In addition, the median Black New York City homeowner’s home value is significantly lower than the median white New York City homeowner.
"I am deeply concerned about the racial wealth gap in our state. This report highlights the deep disparities in wealth between white and black New Yorkers, and it is clear that we need to take decisive action to address this issue. We must take decisive action to address these disparities and create a more just and equitable future for all New Yorkers,” said Senator James Sanders.
The report’s findings underscore the historical impact of institutional racism in areas such as housing, education, employment, and financial systems. The findings of the report support the establishment of a commission to study these inequities and potential reparations, echoing the legislative efforts of New York Senator James Sanders and New York State Assembly Member Michaelle Solages.