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

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Sep 17, 2020 - Health

Racial disparities during pandemic extend to health coverage losses

Reproduced from Avalere Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has exacerbated a racial disparity in insurance coverage, in addition to its myriad other racial inequities, per a new Avalere analysis.

Why it matters: Before the pandemic, Black and Latino Americans were already much less likely than white Americans to have employer-based coverage. And now they're losing that coverage at a greater rate.

SurveyMonkey poll: Suburbs and the safety wedge

Data: SurveyMonkey poll of 35,732 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, 2020 with ±1% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

White suburbanites who feel "very safe" in their communities are more likely to favor Joe Biden, while those who feel only somewhat safe move toward President Trump, according to new SurveyMonkey polling for Axios.

Why it matters: The findings help illuminate how Trump is using safety as a wedge issue ahead of the election — and why he's fanning fears of violent protests bleeding into the suburbs.

Joe Biden: "I've benefitted" from white privilege

Biden at a Scranton, Pennslvanyia CNN town hall. Photo courtesty of CNN.

Joe Biden said at a CNN town hall on Thursday that he has benefitted from white privilege "just because I don't have to go through what my Black brothers and sisters have had to go through."

Why it matters: Biden's response stands in contrast to the Trump administration's moves to order government agencies to halt trainings on critical race theory and white privilege, referring to them as "anti-American propaganda."