Report: Austin’s economic growth is leaving black and Latino communities behind

Angela Glover-Blackwell, Kazique Prince and Jeremie Greer take part in a panel discussion at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin on Feb. 28.

Angela Glover-Blackwell, Kazique Prince and Jeremie Greer take part in a panel discussion at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin on Feb. 28.

New research from a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit shows Austin’s growing economy has also led to a widening of the wealth gap between white residents and people of color in Austin.

The report, released Feb. 28 by nonprofit organization Prosperity Now in conjunction with local partners Austin Community Foundation and JPMorgan Chase, looked at changes in Austin over time among white, black, Latino and Asian residents, analyzing indicators of wealth such as income, property values and “liquid asset poverty”—a measure of whether families can cover three months of expenses if they experience a sudden financial change, such as a job loss or medical emergency.

According to the report, black and Latino residents of Austin experienced only modest gains in their median income between 1980 and 2016. The city’s overall median income jumped from $48,625 to $60,939 in those 36 years. However, the black median income rose from $36,506 to $40,004, and the Latino median income rose from $42,245 to $44,239.

Property values tell the same story, according to the report. In 2016, the median property value for Asian homeowners in Austin was $340,000, and it was $320,000 for white homeowners. For both black and Latino homeowners, the median property value was $170,000.

Jeremie Greer, vice president of policy and research at Prosperity Now, joined a panel at Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin on Feb. 28 to discuss the findings along with Kazique Prince, policy adviser to Mayor Steve Adler, and Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and president of national research institute PolicyLink.

“This racial wealth divide is not a naturally occurring event. It’s not something that was created by a higher power; it’s not in our DNA. It’s man-made,” Greer said in a discussion moderated by Yvette Ruiz, vice president of corporate responsibility at JPMorgan Chase.

The report states black and Latino wealth dropped in Austin between 2000-16. In 2000, the black median income was $46,029, and the Latino median income was $51,331. In 2016, those median income levels had sunk to $40,004 and $44,239, respectively.

Economic prosperity across all demographics dropped in the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, but according to the report, white and Asian median incomes have recovered, while black and Latino residents are still feeling the effects.

“A lot of black wealth vanished in the Great Recession, and we have not recovered still,” Prince said.

The report is intended to provide a local perspective on issues of income inequality to cities across the country to spur conversation, rather than offering solutions on the local level, Greer said.

One area in which the city is addressing the issue, Prince said, is the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequalities. That task force released a report in 2017 and is continuing talks now.


MOST RECENT

A screen capture of a virtual meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court, feauring Gerald Daugherty and Sam Biscooe sitting in the courtroom
Travis County sets legal team discussion on Tesla economic incentives for July 8

County commissioners will hear a briefing from Travis County's economic development staff and possibly take a vote when they reconvene July 8.

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions for the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Education Agency issues guidelines for 2020-21 school year

The guidelines address on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions that should be enforced at Texas schools this year.

Edward Logan is the new CEO of Sport Clips Inc. (Courtesy Sport Clips Inc.)
New Sport Clips Haircuts CEO to succeed founder

In his early work with Sport Clips, Edward oversaw the company-owned stores, taking many of them to top performers within the system.

In-person appointments for driver license renewal and replacement are now being offered at driver license offices across the state. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas driver license offices reopen for in-person renewal, replacement services

The second phase of reopening announced July 7 expanded services offered at driver license offices.

New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New U.S. guidelines require exchange students to take in-person classes this fall

The guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas.

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas students given access to thousands of books, news articles for summer reading through TEA partnership

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish.

The State Fair of Texas is expected to return in 2021. (Courtesy Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)
State Fair of Texas cancels 2020 season

This is the eighth time in the fair’s 134-year history that the event has been called off.

South Austin-based food trailer The Vegan Yacht will open a brick-and-mortar restaurant at the space. (Courtesy The Vegan Yacht)
Vegan restaurant to replace Full English cafe in South Austin

South Austin-based food trailer The Vegan Yacht will open a brick-and-mortar restaurant at the space.

Interim President Jay Hartzell said in a letter to the UT campus July 7 that a staff member has died from COVID-19. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of Texas custodial services staff member dies from COVID-19

This is the university's first death related to COVID-19, according to a message from interim President Jay Hartzell.

Neil Vickers, ACC executive vice president
Austin Community College approves $416.11 million budget for FY 2020-21, defers salary increases

The budget does not include staff raises, but raises will be re-evaluated in the fall.

Travis County is approaching Stage 5 risk with 69 new hospitalizations July 6. (Community Impact staff)
Travis County reports 7 new coronavirus deaths July 6

Travis County is appoaching Stage 5 risk with 69 new hospitalizations July 6 and 64.6 per day this past week.