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Study: Racial Progress Slow for African-Americans in Arkansas

A new study shows that African-Americans in Arkansas are behind residents of many other states when it comes to economic and social equality. (iStockphoto)
A new study shows that African-Americans in Arkansas are behind residents of many other states when it comes to economic and social equality. (iStockphoto)
January 12, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Progress toward economic and social equality for African-Americans in Arkansas lags behind many other states, according to a new study.

A new WalletHub survey showed there is a lot of ground to make up in order for the state to realize civil rights leaders' dreams of equality for all people. WalletHub's Jill Gonzalez said the study measured a variety of conditions for African-Americans in every state, as well as the progress each state has made towards greater equality since 1970.

"Arkansas ranked 29th when it came to its current integration. When it comes to its overall progress, it did a little bit better and ranked 17th,” Gonzalez said. "So, it just made the top half when it comes to progress; between other states. It could certainly use some improvement."

Of the 2.5 million people living in Arkansas, 15.4 percent are African-American - a significantly higher percentage than the national average of 13.3 percent.

The survey rated progress on 16 key indicators of equality and integration across three main categories: employment and wealth, education and civic engagement and Health.Gonzalez said economic factors in Arkansas are responsible for much of the divide.

"Arkansas lags in wealth and employment factors. We're seeing that there's a very, very large gap in the home ownership rates between blacks and whites,” Gonzalez said, “so we haven't seen a lot of improvement there. The same can be said for the business-ownership rate."

But, she said the news in Arkansas regarding racial progress isn’t all bad.

"There are actually some numbers that are in the top five here for specific metrics,” Gonzalez said. "One of them is the percentage of government workers. That gap has decreased significantly since the '70s. And the third-lowest gap when it comes to the poverty rate, the difference there between whites and blacks."

States in the deep South have historically done poorly when it comes to integration, Gonzalez said. However, the survey showed several southern states - including Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas - have made significant progress toward racial equality since 1970.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AR