Inequality persists for Black and African American residents

Census Bureau data results provide deeper insights into regional patterns

Black or African American residents in the region face persistent challenges due to historic and contemporary racist practices and policies, especially economic inequality. About 21% of the region’s Black or African American residents live in poverty. By comparison, 7% of whites experience poverty. And the poverty rate in each county is at least twice as high for Black residents as it is for white residents.



Black or African-American householders have median household incomes that are nearly $40,000 less than white householders regionally. In King County, this disparity is most severe: Black householders have median incomes that are less than half that for white householders. Black householders have lower median incomes across all four counties.



Only a quarter of Black or African American adults earned at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 44% of non-Hispanic white adults. One in 10 Black or African American adults never graduated from high school, more than double the rate (4%) of non-Hispanic white adults.



Black or African American workers are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to work in lower paying service occupations, and are less likely to work in higher paying management, business, science, or arts occupations.


Almost half of all Black households live in areas of lower opportunity. Many of these areas have limited access to high quality schools. This lays the groundwork for pathways to the disparities highlighted above, funneling disproportionately more people of color into lower wage jobs.

Also, people of color have often been unable to accrue wealth through homeownership due to historical legal barriers such as the Homestead Act, restrictive covenants, redlining and urban renewal.

PSRC recognizes the stark inequalities faced by Black or African American residents and is addressing them through its equity planning work. PSRC’s Equity Advisory Committee next meets on March 3.