The Change That Hasn't Come

A man looks over job postings at a Denver workforce center the day after the election.
A man looks over job postings at a Denver workforce center the day after the election. (By Matthew Staver -- Bloomberg News)
By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's been a long, long time coming.

"Because of what we did on this date, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America," President-elect Barack Obama said in his victory speech.

As an African American mother of three children, I've been sporadically crying ever since Election night. When I tell my children they can work hard and aspire to any job in this country, that statement is finally, finally true.

But my joy is muted because there's still some change that hasn't come.

"This is our time to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids, to restore prosperity . . . to reclaim the American dream," Obama said.

For large pockets of America's population, prosperity is still an American dream deferred.

Obama will confront the enormous challenge of leading the country out of what is surely a recession. But the road out should be shared by all.

Income for all U.S. households has stagnated. But the numbers are worse for Hispanics and African Americans. "They are likely to suffer first and to suffer more in an economy that does not produce widely shared prosperity," wrote Amanda Logan and Tim Westrich in an updated version of "The State of Minorities: How Are Minorities Faring in the Economy?" published by the Center for American Progress.

And how are minorities faring?

Not well.

From income to unemployment to health care to homeownership, Hispanics and African Americans lag significantly behind whites, according to the data compiled by the center.

From 2000 to 2007, Hispanics' median family income declined from $39,935 to $38,679, an annualized average drop of 0.5 percent. Whites' median income also decreased during this time but by only $12 (in 2007 dollars). Whites' median family income was $54,920 in 2007, 1.4 times higher than that of Hispanics.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company