Last year, the U.S. economy demonstrated remarkable resilience amid a three-decade high rate of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s concerted efforts to curb soaring consumer prices. Despite these challenges, the Black labor market exhibited surprising strength throughout 2022, extending its positive performance into the first quarter of 2023. In April, Black unemployment hit a historic low of 4.7 percent, marking the lowest level ever recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This achievement is noteworthy as it narrows the gap with the White unemployment rate to 3.5 percent—the slimmest recorded disparity in unemployment rates between these two demographics by the BLS. Additionally, the labor force participation gap between Black and White populations reached an unprecedented low, with Blacks now surpassing Whites in labor force participation rates.
While these positive employment trends may imply an opportunity for significant Black homeownership gains, substantial obstacles persist. In 2022, the Black homeownership rate stood at 45 percent, only modestly higher than the level at the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. This disparity in homeownership rates between Blacks and Whites has expanded over the past half-century, reaching 23.8 percentage points in 1970 and nearly 30 percentage points in 2022. Notably, the current Black homeownership rate remains well below its 2004 peak of nearly 50 percent, highlighting persistent challenges in achieving equitable homeownership outcomes.
The 2023 State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA) report provides the most comprehensive annual data available on the status of Black homeownership in America. The report can be accessed at nareb.com and is a comprehensive compiling of the facts, statistics, and analysis that show African Americans in 2023 gaining in significant areas, such as labor market participation, but continuing to face substantial obstacles when seeking to purchase a home. For America to have equitable communities and equality for all, it is essential that the Black-White homeownership gap be erased, and Blacks have opportunities to enjoy this American Dream.
Homeownership directly impacts the overall economic growth and social equality in the United States. Increasing Black homeownership empowers and enables Black families and individuals to achieve financial stability and family economic security. The barriers to Black homeownership date back to the early 20th Century when discriminatory housing policies such as redlining were rampant. These policies systematically excluded Blacks from acquiring loans or purchasing homes in certain areas, resulting in severe racial disparities in homeownership rates. As a result, the wealth gap between Black and White households widened significantly over time. Today, the median net worth of White households is $250,400, compared to $24,520 for Black families. This is not societal equality. I believe our nation can and will do better.
In addition to the economic benefits, increasing Black homeownership has significant social implications. Homeownership provides stability and a sense of belonging for families, which can positively impact mental health and overall well-being. It also allows individuals to have a stake in their community and foster a stronger sense of civic engagement. Furthermore, studies have shown that neighborhoods with higher homeownership rates tend to have lower crime rates, creating safer and more prosperous communities.
The 2023 SHIBA report is a guiding light for NAREB and the nation. With its analysis of the current economic environment, as well as citation of the barriers to homeownership that Blacks face, it provides the organization with a roadmap on what areas we must address to increase Black homeownership and wealth. This year, NAREB has launched a Black Wealth Tour, which will provide financial literacy and build wealth knowledge in more than 100 cities. We announced that a Black Development Academy will next year begin training NAREB Members to become real estate developers. We also announced our first list of the top 100 Black real estate agents and brokers nationwide, highlighting their prolific work in communities.
As part of our efforts to increase black homeownership, NAREB is also one of over 100 organizations that are part of the Black Homeownership Collaborative. The Collaborative is focused on creating 3 million net new Black homeowners by 2030.
Our work goes on. By implementing strategic policies and addressing systemic barriers, NAREB can work towards closing the racial homeownership gap and creating a fairer and more just society. As we continue to advocate for this cause, we must recognize that increasing Black homeownership is not just a matter of housing but a critical step towards achieving overall equity and justice for everyone in our society.