How Much ‘Racial Progress’ Has Your State Made?

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jan 14, 2020

A new report, 2020’s States with the Most Racial Progress,” examines just how much "racial progress" the nation has made at the state level. The big news: WalletHub says New Mexico ranks as the most racially integrated state in the country and Wyoming has seen the most progress.

The report, published Tuesday (January 14), compares all 50 states and the District of Columbia on racial integration and racial progress. This includes examining employment and wealth (such as the labor force and homeownership rates), education (including adults with degrees), social and civic engagement (from the number of veterans to voter turnout rates) and health (infant mortality rates and the number of insured adults). The survey doesn’t provide a full picture of the nation, however; it only compares Black and White residents, “in light of racial tensions in recent years that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement,” write report authors.

WalletHub found that the states leading the country with the most racial progress are Wyoming, Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and New Jersey (see the map below), even though Mississippi ranked 28 in social and civic engagement and Georgia 30 for health. The worst for racial progress was Iowa. The states that led in integration were New Mexico, Hawaii, Wyoming, Texas and West Virginia; D.C. came in last place.

rnPolling aside, not everyone is convinced. “The surge in interest in reparations has led to the introduction of some state-level policies that are intended to improve Black relative economic position but none of them—including the various marijuana tax initiatives—will do much to eliminate the racial wealth gap (which is, on average, about $800,000 per household, nationally, based upon the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances data),” Duke University public policy professor William A. Darity says in the report. “I am convinced that only a national program of reparations can eliminate the racial wealth gap.”

Other key findings from the report: 


  • Vermont, South Dakota, Alaska, New Mexico and Utah have the lowest unemployment gap rate; D.C., Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio have the highest
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  • When it comes to annual incomes, Hawaii, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Idaho rank the highest, while D.C., Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana and Iowa round out the lowest
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  • In New Hampshire, West Virginia, Vermont, New Mexico and Hawaii, Black and White students do well on national standardized tests, but more work needs to be done to close the educational gap in D.C., Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Iowa
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rnTo see the complete survey findings, check out the survey here.