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August 30, 2014, 8:14 pm

New State of the Black family report disheartening

A new report on the state of the Black family finds that by almost every measure African-Americans families have declined since the 1960s — a trend followed by families across all demographics.

The new report, released by the Urban Institute, revisits a 1965 report by the late New York Sen. Daniel Moynihan. In the original report, titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” Moynihan — at the time the assistant labor secretary — laid out a series of statistics on Black families.

Moynihan, in his report’s conclusion declared, “at the heart of the deterioration of the fabric of Negro society is the deterioration of the Negro family. It is the fundamental source of the weakness of the Negro community at the present time.”

Not much has changed, according to the new report’s findings.

“An analysis of national data indicates that little progress has been made on the key issues Moynihan identified,” wrote Gregory Acs, of the Urban Institute, in a statement released with the report. “Further, many of the issues he identified for Black families are now prevalent among other families.”

Three major factors were at the heart of the Moynihan report: the number of Black children who lived in homes without a father, the number of unmarried women giving birth and the number of Black women married and living with their spouse.

In 1950, 17 percent of Black children lived in a home with their mother but not their father. By 2010 that had increased to 50 percent. In 1965, eight percent of childbirths in the Black community occurred among unmarried women. In 2010 that figure was 41 percent. The number of Black women married and living with their spouse was recorded as 53 percent in 1950. By 2010, it had dropped to 25 percent.

Overall, Black children are three times more likely than white children to grow up in poverty — 67 percent of African-American children grow up in poverty compared to 19 percent of white children.

The Urban Institute’s report also added to the original scope of the Moynihan report to include the number of African Americans behind bars, employment data and educational attainment.

Perhaps the most alarming trend over the last 45 years has been the skyrocketing rate of incarceration for Black men.

“Since the Moynihan report was released, another major social trend has put further strains on Black families — the mass incarceration of Black men,” Acs said. “By 2010, about one out of every six Black men had spent some time in prison, compared with about 1 out of 33 white men.”

A demographic breakdown by race was not available for 1965, but numbers beginning in 1974 showed disproportionate numbers of Black men being sent to prison. In 1974, it was nine percent of Black men compared to one percent of white men. By 2010, that had risen to 16 percent of Black men and three percent of white men.

The report did note that number has started to decline slightly among Black men.

Unemployment among Black men remains more than twice as high as among white men.

For white men in 1954, unemployment was zero — for Black men it was about 4 percent. By 2010 it was 16.7 percent for Black men and 7.7 percent for white men.

In 1954, 79 percent of Black men were employed. By 2011 that had dipped to 57 percent. For Black women the numbers rose. In 1954, 43 percent of Black women had jobs. By 2011 that had risen to 54 percent. The trend among African Americans was mirrored among whites, but in both cases white men and women fared better in terms of employment.

The earnings gap between Blacks and their white peers has narrowed, but persists with Black men earning about 70 percent what white men do. In 1960, Black men earned about 60 percent what white men did.

In one area of improvement, a growing number of Black students have completed high school. In 1964, fewer than half of Black students finished high school. That compared to roughly 70 percent of white students. That has since risen to about 85 percent for both Blacks and whites.

But, the number of Black students that repeat grades or were suspended was higher than for whites. Half of Black male students have been suspended, compared to 21 percent of whites.

The report was released in December, but a video presentation including a roundtable with various experts was unveiled this week.

 

To comment, contact staff writer Eric Mayes at 215-893-5742 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .