College-educated black women have nearly closed the income gap with their white counterparts, according to a snapshot of black America released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
African-American women with bachelor's degrees earned 98 percent of what white women with the same level of education did in 1995, the figures showed. College-educated black men's income was 73 percent of that of similarly educated white men. Women of both races made less than men.
Black per capita income overall was 56 percent of white income.
However, the steady economic growth of the mid-1990s apparently benefited black families.
The 26 percent poverty rate for black families -- while still four times the rate for white families -- represented a continuing decline from the 31 percent recorded at the beginning of the decade.
"These are the lowest apparent poverty rates we've seen" since the mid-1960s, said Roderick Harrison, chief of the Census Bureau's racial statistics branch.
The statistical profile showed that the black population of the United States was 33.9 million in March 1996, or 12.8 percent of the nation's total. That was up from 30.4 million (12.3 percent) in 1990.
The black population is younger and faster-growing than the white population. (The report did not include statistics on the fastest-growing minority groups, Hispanics and Asians.)
But projections call for Hispanics to overtake African-Americans as the nation's largest minority group in 2009.
By 2050, the Census Bureau projects, Hispanics will be about a quarter of the U.S. population and blacks less than a sixth.
Considerable gaps remain between whites and blacks, the report showed. The differences sometimes narrow as education and family stability increase.
The median income of all black families ($25,970) was only 58 percent of that of all white families ($45,020). But married-couple black families in which both husband and wife were wage earners took in 84 percent of the income of similar white families ($49,752 vs. $59,025).
The married couple is the rule among white families and the exception among blacks, according to the Census Bureau figures. Nearly 83 percent of white families are built around married couples, compared with 46 percent of black families. More single women than married couples headed black families in 1996, the report showed.
"The long-term decline in the percentage of black families maintained by married couples is not abating," Harrison said.
Less than 9 percent of black married-couple families were in poverty, but more than 45 percent of those headed by single women were poor.
Income generally rises with education, and the level of schooling among blacks has gradually increased.
The number of blacks earning bachelor's degrees increased by 40 percent between 1977 and 1994, according to a recent report by the College Fund/UNCF. Still, in percentage terms, almost twice as many whites earn degrees as blacks.
And the Census Bureau report showed that more blacks in the 35-44 age group had a bachelor's degree than blacks ages 25 to 34. Among whites, the younger group had a slightly higher level of education.
Harrison said blacks tend to complete high school and college later in life than whites. He said there was no indication that blacks' educational gains were reversing.
In addition to white-black gaps, there were gaps between black women and black men:
Among blacks in the 25-34 group, 16 percent of women had college degrees, compared with 11 percent of men.
Black women outnumbered black men, 18.1 million to 15.8 million. Black women live nine years longer on average than black men -- but almost six years less than white women. Black ZTC men live almost 12 years less on average than white men.
Pub Date: 6/27/97