More African Americans in Kentucky are living in poverty, and their median income levels remain below the rest of the state, according to a U.S. Census survey released Thursday.
The American Community Survey provides an annual snapshot of social, economic, demographic and housing data that’s based off previous year records.
In Kentucky, around 20 percent of residents were living in poverty in 2012, which remained neutral over the previous year. But for African Americans that number went from just under 33 percent to around 36 percent.
“We’re basically seeing a labor market where those who are most disadvantaged aren’t moving forward, their wages aren’t growing, they aren’t able to either get jobs and certainly not get jobs that pay adequate wages,” says Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
The median household income has increased the past few years from $40,072 to $41,724, but Bailey says the data also shows that Kentucky’s overall population is still falling behind pre-recession levels in 2007. And the effects are different between whites and blacks. For example, the median income level in 2012 for whites was 6 percent behind the pre-recession levels. For African Americans was still lagging 9 percent behind.
According to the report, African American wages are around 60 percent lower than those for non-Hispanic whites.
Bailey and the center partly blame state cuts to education, childcare, mental health and other services and they, again, pushed for tax reforms that would help generate more revenue for these departments.
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