New Report: State of the Dream 2005

Press Release from United for a Fair Economy
January 10, 2005
Contact: Betsy Leondar-Wright, (617) 423-2148 x113

New Report: State of the Dream 2005

Under Bush, People of Color Slide Further from King's Dream

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE: State of the Dream 2005 (PDF, 194 KB).

“Ownership, independence, access to wealth should not be the privilege of a few.”

– President George W. Bush

“Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King

After steady economic gains in the 1990s, Latinos, African Americans and other people of color have actually lost ground since 2000, according to United for a Fair Economy’s newest report.

In two weeks Americans will observe both the second inauguration of President Bush and the 76th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. Before visiting King’s grave in 2003, Bush said, “It’s important for our country to honor his life and what he stood for” -- but his actions have contradicted those words. The report finds that President Bush’s campaign promise of an Ownership Society slipped farther out of reach for most people of color during his first administration.

  • In 2000, the African American unemployment rate reached a historic low of 7.1%, but it has been 9.9% or higher since January 2002. Latino / Hispanic unemployment rates also dropped from 8.0% in 1988 to 5.7% in 2000, but rose again in the last four years.

  • About half of the progress in the median income of people of color from 1996 to 2000 was wiped out in the following three years. For the first time in 15 years, the average Latino household now has an income that is less than two-thirds that of the average white household. After slowly increasing from 55% of white income in 1988 to 65% in 2000, black median income fell again to 62% of the white median in 2003.

  • Throughout the 1990s, poverty rates fell across the board, declining fastest for African Americans and Latinos. But since 2000, more than one third of that progress in reducing poverty among African American families has been erased, as 300,000 African-American families fell below the poverty line from 2000 to 2003.

  • Private retirement income and inheritances remain scarce among people of color.

  • Ownership of homes, stock and businesses remains disproportionately in white hands. While homeownership is up for all races, most people of color still rent, while three-quarters of white families own their homes.

  • Business owners of color, who are largely small business owners, received only minor tax breaks from the four Bush tax cuts. Most tax breaks for business and investors have landed with those who are wealthy and white.

The report concludes that closing the racial wealth divide will require a new “GI Bill for Everyone,” a comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color. Progressive taxes on wealthy individuals and profitable corporations are needed to fund a real Ownership Society.

The authors of UFE’s second annual "State of the Dream" report are Betsy Leondar-Wright, Meizhu Lui, Gloribell Mota, Dedrick Muhammad, and Mara Voukydis.

United for a Fair Economy is a national non-partisan non-profit organization that raises awareness of the dangers of growing economic inequality.