Economics: Three times as many blacks as whites live below 125% of the poverty line. The black-white unemployment gap decreased between 2007 (45%) and 2008 (49%).
Education: The rate of enrollment for African-American students within the age range of 30 to 34 years of age increased from 7.2 percent to 10 percent, with much of the school enrollment occurring at the college level. The dropout rate for black high school students decreased from 15 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2008 and a 15 percentage decline in college enrollment for recent African-American high school graduates from 2007, with black students less likely to enroll compared to recent white high school graduates.
Health: The gap in total uninsured increased this year, with the index falling from 56 percent in 2007 to 53 percent in 2008. Black children were twice as likely to be uninsured compared to their white
Social Justice: The Social Justice sub index showed the most improvement, with jail sentencing for blacks decreasing 15 percentage points, from 93 percent in 2007 to 77 percent in 2008. Also, the average sentence for blacks decreased from 44 months to 40 months, while the average sentence for whites increased from 34 months to 37 months.
Civic Engagement: Civic Engagement is the only area in which African-Americans exceed whites. Black volunteerism in the U.S. Military reserves has slightly decreased over the last five years, possibly due the current war in Iraq.
The 2008 edition of SOBA presents the National Urban League’s Opportunity Compact, a comprehensive set of principles and policy recommendations designed to empower all Americans to be full participants in the economic and social mainstream of this nation. The cornerstones are supported by a list of 10 policy priorities:
1. Commit to mandatory early childhood education beginning at age three as well as guarantee access to college for all.
2. Close the gaps in the health insurance system to ensure universal healthcare for all children.
3. Establish policies that provide tools for working families to become economically self-sufficient.
4. Create an urban infrastructure bank to fund reinvestment in urban communities (e.g. parks, schools, roads).
5. Increase economic self-sufficiency by indexing the minimum wage to the rate of inflation and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit more working families.
6. Expand “second chance” programs for high school drop outs, exoffenders and atrisk youth to secure GEDs, job training and employment.
7. Adopt the “Homebuyer’s Bill of Rights” as recommended by the National Urban League.
8. Reform public housing to assure continuing national commitment to low-income families.
9. Strongly enforce federal minority business opportunity goals to ensure greater minority participation in government contracting.
10. Build capacity of minority business through expansion of microfinancing, equity financing and the development of strategic alliances with major corporations.