Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately high rates of hunger and poverty despite the growing economy, according to an analysis released Friday by a Christian-based citizens group working to end hunger.
The Bread for the World report says the shortage of good, stable jobs and the impact of mass incarceration on the community exacerbates the situation.
“As African-Americans, we still suffer from some of the highest rates of hunger and poverty in the country despite the growth of our country’s economy since 2008,” said Eric Mitchell, the organization’s director of government relations. “The lack of jobs that pay fair wages is preventing people of color from moving out of poverty and the recession.”
According to the most recent data, the median income for African-Americans in 2013 was $24,864, significantly lower than the median for all Americans, the analysis found. Poverty affected nearly three out of 10 African-Americans or nearly twice the average rate for the general population. The same rates hold in terms of their ability to feed their families.
Mitchell said the problem is worsened by the effects of mass incarceration.
“Incarceration for non-violent criminal offenses aggravates the situation for black people in America since these laws, time and again, put people of color behind bars at a higher rate than white people for the same offense,” he said.
African-Americans constitute nearly half of the total 2.3 million prison population in the country. Many states deny returning citizens access to such programs as SNAP, even while they look for work. For those who land a job, their yearly earnings are reduced by as much as 40 percent, Bread for the World reports.
“The best way to combat hunger and poverty in the African-American community is through jobs that pay fair wages, strong safety-net programs, and by ensuring laws are in place to protect people and not further marginalize them from society,” Mitchell said.