Economically, black and Hispanic families have fared far worse than white families since the recession and it's likely to get worse, according to a study from the Urban Institute.
It's not only a disparity in incomes that is widening the racial wealth gap -- as of 2010, whites were still earning roughly twice as much as black and Hispanic families -- but the recovering housing and stock markets also made an impact, according to the Institute.
Wealth is measured by the amount of assets minus total debt. It is considered a better indicator than income alone because assets are often passed from generation to generation, giving younger people an economic head start. Richer families are able to help the next generation attend college, start a business, buy a home and save for the future.
The study found that while income ratios remained relatively stable among the races for the past 30 years, the gap in actual wealth has been growing wider.
Before the recession, whites were approximately four times richer than nonwhites when measuring total wealth. Since the recession, whites have become six times richer. The Institute estimates that between 2007 and 2010, Hispanic families lost 44 percent of their wealth; black families lost 31 percent and white families lost 11 percent.
During the housing crisis, the study says, black and Hispanic families typically had more of their wealth tied up in their homes and were unable to make mortgage payments when home prices collapsed. And they were unable to recover financially when the stock market plunged. Unemployment among minorities also rose faster than it did among whites.
Caroline Ratcliffe, an author of the study, noted to The New York Times that "The racial wealth gap is deeply rooted in our society. It's here, it's not going away, and we need to care about it."
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