| NEW YORK, July 26
NEW YORK, July 26 The wealth gap between whites
and minorities in the United States has reached the widest in a
quarter century after the economic crisis hit nonwhites the
hardest, a study released on Tuesday showed.
The median wealth of white households is 20 times greater
than that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic
households, according to an analysis of newly available
government data from 2009 by Pew Research Center, an
That is the largest wealth gap since the data was first
collected 25 years ago and is about double the level in the
run-up to the 2007-2009 recession.
"Plummeting house values were the principal cause of the
recent erosion in household wealth among all groups, with
Hispanics hit hardest by the meltdown in the housing market,"
Senior Researcher Rakesh Kochhar said in the report.
The disparity surged from 2005 to 2009 as the housing
market's collapse bled equity from homes.
Minority wealth is more concentrated in homes than among
whites, which helps explain the widening: from 2005 to 2009,
Hispanic median net worth shrank by two thirds and blacks' by
53 percent against a 16 percent drop for whites, Pew said.
More than half the net worth of Hispanics and blacks is
concentrated in homes compared with 44 percent for whites.
Housing prices fell 27.3 percent from the fourth quarter of
2005 to the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the
Case-Shiller National home price index.
In 2009, black median household wealth -- the sum of assets
minus debt -- stood at $5,677, compared with $6,325 for
Hispanics and $113,149 for whites, the Pew report said.
Blacks and Hispanics lost a greater percentage of wealth
than whites in the stock market and mutual funds also.
High long-term unemployment and shrinking incomes,
themselves a result of the economic slump, also may have
contributed to minorities' dramatic dips in wealth.
In June, 16.2 percent of blacks were unemployed, compared
with 11.6 percent of Hispanics, and 8.1 percent of whites,
according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Hispanics saw the largest drop in wealth, in part because
many live in the regions of the country hardest hit by the
housing bust -- Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada.
The Pew analysis is based on data from the U.S. Census
Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, a
questionnaire distributed to 43,000 households.
(Editing by James Dalgleish)