Many of those who descended on Charlottesville to attend the white nationalist rally this weekend believe there is a “war on whites” in the United States today. They believe it so deeply that they are willing, in 2017, to carry Nazi flags and chant Nazi slogans. Some were ready to act violently against those who disagreed. One man faces murder charges after driving his vehicle through a crowd of counterprotesters.
The view that white people face broad discrimination is not limited to groups like the ones espousing Nazi propaganda in Charlottesville over the weekend.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in March 2016 — during the heated Republican primaries — asked Americans which is the “bigger problem in this country: blacks and Hispanics losing out because of preferences for whites, or whites losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics?” Among GOP voters who supported Trump for the Republican nomination, 54 percent picked whites as the bigger losers. Other polls have found similar results.
The “war on whites” is a core concern of Trump’s base, but it isn’t true. White people, especially white males, still have a huge advantage in American society. White people not only control a vastly disproportionate share of the country’s wealth, income and economic power, they also enjoy tremendous advantages helping them to stay ahead financially.
On average, whites are far more likely to get hired and are paid more than nonwhites. Just having a “white-sounding name,” such as Emily or Greg, makes a job applicant 50 percent more like to get called for a job interview than a person with a name given more frequently to African Americans, such as Lakisha or Jamal, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. That helps explain why the black unemployment rate has been about double the white unemployment rate for decades, according to Labor Department statistics.
White families on average have 14 times more wealth than black families and nearly 11 times more than Hispanic families, according to the Census Bureau. Nonwhites are far more likely to live in poverty and go to jail than whites. The American Dream of owning a home has been achieved by more than 72 percent of whites. In contrast, more than half of black and Hispanic households rent.
There’s been a lot of attention directed to the plight of the white working class, the “Trump base” that propelled him to victory. It’s true that whites without college degrees have a harder time finding good-paying jobs in 2017 than they did in the past as manufacturing jobs have gone to robots. It’s also true that suicide and substance abuse is way up among whites in their prime working years, a phenomenon that stunned the nation after Princeton economists Angus Deaton (a Nobel Prize winner) and Anne Case pointed it out in 2015.
But keep this in mind: The white working class still fares better economically than the nonwhite working class. Among Americans who have graduated high school but don’t have a college degree, whites have the lowest unemployment rate and are paid on average $150 more than blacks and $125 more than Hispanics every week, according to Labor Department wage data. That helps explain why only 9 percent of white families live in poverty, while nearly a quarter of black families do.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of all is to look at what Americans say when they are specifically asked if they have ever been discriminated against because of the color of their skin. More than a third of blacks and a quarter of Hispanics say they have personally faced discrimination; just 11 percent of whites do.
Here are 10 charts showing the many ways whites are overwhelmingly better off than nonwhites in America today.
White people earn more money
In 2015, according to the Census, the median annual income for households headed by white people was $62,950. For households headed by blacks, it was $36,989. Hispanic households were somewhere in between.
White people own more stuff
Income is only part of the story, though. A better indicator of a household’s financial health is wealth, or net worth — the value of everything you own, minus the debts you owe. Here, the racial disparities are staggering.
In 2013, the net worth of the typical white household was $132,483, according to the census. That’s nearly 15 times greater than the typical black household’s net worth of $9,211. Hispanic households, with a median net worth of $12,460, don’t fare that much better.
White people are more likely to be homeowners
Homeownership is a big driver of net worth. For most families, a house is their most valuable asset. It should come as no surprise that whites are considerably more likely (72 percent) than blacks (42.3 percent) or Hispanics (45.5 percent) to own their own home.
White people are less poor
Whites experience less poverty, on average, than members of other ethnic groups. In 2015, the poverty rate for white Americans was 9 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Poverty rates for blacks (24 percent) and Hispanics (21 percent) were more than twice as high.
White people have lower unemployment
White people also experience less unemployment. In 2016, the average unemployment rate for whites was 4.3 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with 8.4 percent for blacks and 5.8 percent for Hispanics.
The remarkable thing about these gaps is how consistent they are across educational attainment. While the rise of Donald Trump has brought a flood of media attention to his white, non-college voter base, black non-college graduates face even more daunting employment prospects.
White people live longer than blacks
Being white in America entitles you, on average, to nearly four more years of life than being black, according to the CDC. Interestingly, this is one realm where Hispanics have an edge, outliving whites by about three years.
White people are more likely to get a bachelor’s degree
A good education is the key to a good job, and whites have a clear advantage on the education front. More than one-third of white American adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, according to the census. Only 22.5 percent of blacks and 15.5 percent of Hispanics can say the same.
White people are less likely to go to jail
In 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, black men were more than six times more likely than white men to end up in prison. The criminal justice system is a driver of some of the starkest disparities between white and nonwhite Americans today.
White people say they experience less discrimination
A more direct way to measure discrimination is to simply ask people if they’ve ever been discriminated against, as a Kaiser/CNN survey did in 2015. Only 11 percent of whites said they’d been discriminated against because of their race, compared with 35 percent of blacks and just over a quarter of Hispanics.