Poverty Among
African American Residents

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This section provides a summary of analyses of risk factors for poverty studied by Forsyth Futures as a part of the Forsyth County Poverty Study that may contribute to high poverty rates for African Americans.  African American residents in Forsyth County have a poverty rate that is about three times as high as that of White, non-Hispanic residents and lower than that of Hispanic/Latino residents.  This racial disparity in poverty rates persists even when considering various risk factors for poverty such as employment, education, family type, etc. 
No one factor examined in this report can completely explain the high poverty rate for African Americans, and there may be other factors influencing this disparity that Forsyth Futures did not study due to unavailable or limited data. For a list of the types of factors that were not included in this analysis, click here. Additionally, some of the measurements used in the report have large margins of error, which makes measuring smaller differences between groups difficult. Data with lower margins of error might produce different results. 

Important Links

Data 101
Data Glossary
Methodology
About this Study
Executive Summary
Key Findings

Core Concepts

This section examines risk factors that are more prevalent among African American residents than at least one other race/ethnicity. These risk factors may partially explain the high poverty rate among African American residents.
  • African American residents are exposed to every examined risk factor at a higher rate than White, non-Hispanic residents.
  • African American residents are exposed to some risk factors at a higher rate than residents of all other races/ethnicities.
  • No individual risk factor can fully explain the high poverty rate of African American residents.

Income and Employment Status

African American residents have a lower median income and are more likely to work part-time than White, non-Hispanic residents.  They also have higher unemployment rates than residents of other races/ethnicities. These disparities could contribute to the high poverty rate of African Americans, but cannot fully explain it because racial disparities in poverty persist even when comparing residents with the same employment status.

Figure 1: Median Household Income by Race/Ethnicity of Householder in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 1 shows that the median income of African American rfesidents is just over half the median income of White, non-Hispanic residents.
Figure 2: Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 2 shows that the unemployment rate for African Americans is higher than any other race/ethnicity and roughly double the unemployment rate of White, non-Hispanic residents.   

Data for the Hispanic/Latino population have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution. 
Figure 3: Percent of Employed Residents Working Part-Time by Race/Ethnicity, 2010-2014
Figure 3 demonstrates that employed African American residents are more likely to work part time (and less likely to work full time) than employed White, non-Hispanic residents.  
Data for Hispanic/Latino residents have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.  
Figure 4: Percent of Residents in Poverty by Employment Status and Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
As shown in Figure 4, employment status alone cannot explain high poverty among African Americans. African American residents are more likely to be in poverty than White, non-Hispanic residents whether they are employed or unemployed.

Data for unemployed Hispanic/Latino residents have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.

Education

African American residents have lower levels of educational attainment than White, non-Hispanic residents. This could partially explain high poverty rates in the African American population, but education alone cannot explain racial disparities in poverty rates.
Figure 5: Educational Attainment of Residents 25 and Over by Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2014
Figure 5 indicates that African American residents have lower levels of educational attainment than White, non-Hispanic residents. African American residents are about half as likely to have a post-secondary degree as White, non-Hispanic residents, and are more likely to have a high school diploma or equivalent, or less than a high school education.
Figure 6: Poverty Rates by Education and Race/Ethnicity of Residents 25 and Older in Forsyth County, 2010-2014
Figure 6 shows that education alone cannot explain high poverty rates among African American residents. 
  • Poverty rates for African American residents are roughly twice as high as those of White, non-Hispanic residents with the same level of educational attainment. 
  • These disparities are so great that African American residents with high school diplomas have higher poverty rates than White, non-Hispanic residents without high school diplomas. 

Data for post-secondary degree have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution. 

Family Characteristics

African American families with children are more likely to be headed by women with no husband present and less likely to have access to a car than those of other races/ethnicities. African American residents are also younger and have larger households than White, non-Hispanic residents. These disparities could contribute to the high poverty rate of African Americans, but cannot fully explain it. Racial disparities in poverty rates persist, even when comparing residents with the same exposure to each of these risk factors.
Figure 7: Family Type by Race/Ethnicity, 2010-2014
As illustrated in Figure 7, over half of African American households with children have a female householder with no husband present. African American households with children are roughly half as likely to be headed by married couples and twice as likely to be headed by a female householder with no husband present compared to White, non-Hispanic households.
Data for African American and Hispanic/Latino single-male-headed households have a high level of variance and should be interpreted with caution.
Figure 8: Lack of Vehicle Access by Race/Ethnicity, 2010-2014
Figure 8 indicates that African American households are more likely to lack access to vehicles than households of other races/ethnicities.  A separate analysis has associated lack of vehicle access with high poverty rates (1), and representatives from community organizations noted that lack of vehicle access can be a barrier to escaping poverty. African American households are about twice as likely as Hispanic/Latino households and four times as likely as White, non-Hispanic households not to have a vehicle, which could increase their risk of poverty or make it more difficult for them to escape poverty.
Figure 9: Median Age by Race/Ethnicity, 2010-2014
Figure 9 shows that the median age of African American residents is about 10 years younger than White, non-Hispanic residents. Younger residents tend to have higher poverty rates, as is shown in a separate analysis, indicating that age could contribute to high poverty rates among African American residents.
Figure 10: Average Size of Households by Race/Ethnicity, 2014
Figure 10 indicates that African American residents, on average, live in larger households than White, non-Hispanic residents.  Poverty calculations assume that larger families need higher incomes, so higher required incomes due to larger family sizes among African Americans could contribute to their high poverty rates.

Housing

Residents are at higher risk of future poverty if they have fewer assets (2), have high housing expenses (3-4), or if they live in locations with high poverty rates (6-8). Homeownership is used in this report as a proxy for asset ownership.
Unlike other risk factors explored in this study, these housing-related risk factors have a delayed impact on poverty. The data used in this study does not describe how long residents have rented or owned their homes or how long they have experienced burdensome housing costs.  These past housing characteristics may have impacted current poverty rates, just as current housing characteristics may contribute to future poverty among African American residents.
Figure 11: Homeownership Rates by Race/Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2014
As Figure 11 shows, African American households are less likely to own their homes than White, non-Hispanic households, indicating that they may have less access to financial assets than White, non-Hispanic households. 

Figure 12: Housing-Cost Burden by Race and Ethnicity in Forsyth County, 2014
Housing expenses that are at least 30% of a household's income are considered burdensome and can create financial strain, which makes poverty more likely in the future (3-4).
As Figure 12 demonstrates, African American households are more likely to have burdensome housing expenses than White, non-Hispanic households.
Figure 13: Percent of Residents Living in Concentrated Poverty by Race/Ethnicity, 2010-2014
Residents living in locations of concentrated poverty, defined in this report as census tracts with poverty rates over 40%, are more likely to be in poverty in the future regardless of whether they are in poverty themselves (6-8).  
As seen in Figure 13, African American residents are more than seven times as likely to live in locations of concentrated poverty as White, non-Hispanic residents. Research has suggested that racial disparities in levels of poverty around residents' homes have a greater impact on racial disparities in economic mobility than many important family characteristics (8).

Christopher Webb, MPP
Christopher is a Data and Research Analyst with Forsyth Futures.  He performs statistical analysis and programming to support work on community issues in Forsyth County. 
He holds a Master's in Public Policy from American University and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Business.
If you have questions or comments about the data presented in this section, please contact Christopher at Christopher@ForsythFutures.org or by phone at 336.701.1700 ext. 108.

References


Tabular References


Figure 1: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Median income in the past 12 months: Table S1903 [ Data files from ACS 1-year estimates for the year 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_S1903&prodType=table
Figure 2: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Employment status: Table S2301 [Data files from ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_S2301&prodType=table
Figures 3-4, 6, 8: U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). 2010-2014 5-year public use microdata samples (PUMS) [Data Files]. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/data/pums.html              
Figure 5(a):U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (black or African American alone):  Table B15002B [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_ B15002B&prodType=table
Figure 5(b):U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino): Table B15002H [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_ B15002H&prodType=table
Figure 5(c):U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by educational attainment for the population 25 years and over (Hispanic or Latino):  Table B15002I [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_ B15002I&prodType=table
Figure 7(a): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months of families by family type by presence of related children under 18 years by age of related children (black or African American alone householder): Table B17010B [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B17010B&prodType=table
Figure 7(b): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months of families by family type by presence of related children under 18 years by age of related children (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino householder): Table B17010H [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B17010H&prodType=table
Figure 7(c): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months of families by family type by presence of related children under 18 years by age of related children (Hispanic or Latino): Table B17010I [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B17010I&prodType=table
Figure 9(a): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by age (black or African American alone householder): Table B01001B [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B01001B&prodType=table
Figure 9(b): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by age (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino householder): Table B01001H [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B01001H&prodType=table
Figure 9(c):Department of Commerce. (2015). Sex by Age (Hispanic or Latino): Table B01001I [Data files ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010-2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B01001I&prodType=table
Figures 10, 12: US Department of Commerce. (2015). 2014 1-year public use microdata samples (PUMS) [Data Files]. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/data/pums.html
Figure 11(a): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Tenure (Black or African American alone householder): Table B25003B [Data files ACS 1-year estimates for the years 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B25003B&prodType=table
Figure 11(b): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Tenure  (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino householder): Table B25003H [Data files ACS 1-year estimates for the years 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B25003H&prodType=table
Figure 11(c):Department of Commerce. (2015). Tenure  (Hispanic or Latino): Table B25003I [Data files ACS 1-year estimates for the years 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B25003I&prodType=table
Figure 13(a): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months by age (Black or African American Alone): Table B17020B [ Data files from ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010 - 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_51YR_B17020B&prodType=table
Figure 13(b): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months by age (white alone, not Hispanic or Latino): Table B17020H [ Data files from ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010 - 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_51YR_B17020H&prodType=table
Figure 13(c): U.S. Department of Commerce. (2015). Poverty status in the past 12 months by age (Hispanic or Latino): Table B17020I [ Data files from ACS 5-year estimates for the years 2010 - 2014]. Retrieved from https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_5YR_B17020I&prodType=table

Literature References


  1. Desmond, M. (2015). Forced relocation and residential instability among urban renters. Social Science Review, June 2015, 227-262.
  2. Desmond, M. (2015). Unaffordable America: Poverty, housing, and eviction. Retrieved from: https://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/fastfocus/pdfs/FF22-2015.pdf
  3. Kneebone, E., Nadeau, C., & Berube, A. (2011). The re-emergence of concentrated poverty. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-re-emergence-of-concentrated-poverty-metropolitan-trends-in-the-2000s
  4. Forsyth Futures analysis. Contact Christopher Webb at christopher@forsythfutures.org for more information.
  5. Cramer, R. & Shanks, T. (2014). The assets perspective: The rise of asset building and its impact on social policy. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. 
  6. Kneebone, E., Nadeau, C., & Berube, A. (2011). The re-emergence of concentrated poverty. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-re-emergence-of-concentrated-poverty-metropolitan-trends-in-the-2000s
  7. Rothwell, J. (2014). The neighborhood effect: Localities and upward mobility.  Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2014/11/12/the-neighborhood-effect-localities-and-upward-mobility
  8. Sharkey, P. (2009). Neighborhoods and the black-white mobility gap. Retrieved from http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/reports/economic_mobility/pewsharkeyv12pdf.pdf