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Data: Federal Reserve; Chart: Axios Visuals

The increasing number of Black millionaires and billionaires and the success of people like former President Obama have led many to speculate that the racial wealth gap in the U.S. is closing, but in fact the opposite is happening.

The big picture: Data shows that over the last 30 years, even as individual Black Americans have seen increased success, the overall wealth gap has widened.

What's happening: As of 2016, 15% of white families were millionaires, according to the latest data from the Fed, compared to 7% in the Fed's 1992 Survey of Consumer Finances.

  • The percentage of Black households worth more than $1 million rose from about 1% in 1992 to a little less than 2% in 2016.

Between the lines: The widening wealth gap has happened despite the fact that Black Americans increased their holdings of financial assets to 96.7% in 2016 from 63.5% in 1989.

  • Fed data show white Americans get more help accumulating wealth — 26% of white families reported receiving an inheritance, compared with 8% of Black families and 5% of Hispanics.

Education also makes much less difference than being white as Black Americans with Master’s degrees have about a 7% chance of becoming a millionaire compared to a 37% chance for white Americans, St. Louis Fed data show.

  • White Americans with a high school education have about the same likelihood of becoming a millionaire as Black Americans with a Master's degree.

The bottom line: “It’s a false narrative to say race doesn’t matter in the United States,” William Emmons, a senior economic adviser at the St. Louis Fed, told Bloomberg in 2016. “It demonstrably does in the results we keep coming upon.”

Editor’s note: This piece was corrected to show 26% of white families received an inheritance (not 25%).

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

Americans' trust in the Fed keeps falling

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±3.3% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' trust in the Federal Reserve fell again in October, with just 34% saying they have a fair amount or a great deal of trust in the central bank in the latest Axios/Ipsos poll.

What's happening: While trust in the Fed rises with age, income level and among those who say they know more about the institution, there was not a single group where even half of respondents said they trusted the Fed.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 20, 2020 - Economy & Business

"Corporate redlining" has cost Black neighborhoods millions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The number of SBA loans to Black-owned businesses has decreased 84% from its peak before the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report from the Business Journals, citing lending data from the agency’s flagship 7(a) program. Overall 7(a) loans declined 53% during that time.

Why it matters: The precipitous decline in loans to Black-owned businesses, in particular, was despite 48% growth in the economy, a 101% increase in bank deposits and an 82% jump in commercial loans, the report notes.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the impasse between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House on a new stimulus deal is supposed to be a crisis, you wouldn't know it from the stock market, where prices continue to rise.

  • That's been in no small part because U.S. economic data has held up remarkably well in recent months thanks to the $2 trillion CARES Act and Americans' unusual ability to save during the crisis.