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'State of Black Cincinnati' report finds parity is still an issue

Karolina Bobek

An updated report from the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio finds there's still a lot that needs to be done to reach parity between Black and white Cincinnatians. The "State of Black Cincinnati" report released on Juneteenth is an update to the original released in 2015.

"The biggest takeaway from this report is there's still a lot of improvement that needs to be done," says Candra Reeves, senior director of data and analytics for the Urban League. "While some things have improved overall, Black Cincinnatians still have a long way to go to reach parity with white Cincinnatians."

She says the report's findings are important because they will help guide the work that needs to be done to improve outcomes.

State of Black Cincinnati: The Journey to Parity

The report encompasses 2015 through 2023, and looks at economics, employment, health, education, housing, criminal justice, and civic engagement. It also includes outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic. It uses data pulled from surveys, the U.S. Census, Cincy Insights, and PolicyMap, in addition to reports from regional experts.

The Census data shows a stark gap between Black and white families when it comes to median income. The median income for Black households in 2022 was $31,520, compared to $70,909 for white households in Cincinnati. The report notes the rate of growth for Black households is increasing.

RELATED: A Discussion On The Urban League's Recent Report, "The State Of Black Cincinnati 2015: Two Cities"

Unemployment numbers for Black Cincinnatians have decreased significantly, the report notes. However, it points out Black workers are drastically over-represented in low-paying jobs. In surveys, Black respondents also reported higher banking fees, less ability to accumulate wealth and savings, and being more likely to be denied loans or credit cards.

Black-owned business are growing across the region, though nationally it remains more difficult for minority owners to get business loans and assistance.

The full report can be found online.

The pandemic was 'eye-opening'

Reeves says the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the rift in health care access and outcomes. She sees it as one of the biggest differences between the 2015 report and now.

RELATED: Why Black taxpayers are more likely to get audited by the IRS, and how the U.S. tax code applies to all of us

"COVID really opened the eyes (to) the inequities and disparities that continue to exist socially, economically and in health care," she says. "The pandemic really forced everyone to slow down and change a lot of things, (and) that exacerbated some of the outcomes that we see when it comes to all areas — health, education, economics, employment — all of these things that we're still dealing with today post-pandemic."

Moving forward

As with the 2015 report, the Urban League is using the data to lay out a policy agenda.

"We're focusing on three key areas in this policy agenda to really help drive the initiative forward," Reeves says. "We are targeting affordable housing, economic empowerment and civic engagement. These three things we feel will improve the overall outcomes for a lot of Black Cincinnatians."

The report itself goes further, laying out seven recommendations:

  1. Enhancing affordable housing options
  2. Increasing access to capital and job opportunities
  3. Strengthening collaborative efforts
  4. Improving race relations and police-community relationships
  5. Empowering marginalized communities
  6. Addressing systemic barriers to inclusion
  7. Convening, facilitating, supporting, and empowering inclusion solutions

You can hear a full discussion about the State of Black Cincinnati report Thursday at 12:30 p.m. on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.