African-Americans and Hispanics, the largest racial and ethnic minorities in the United States, made positive strides economically and educationally during the past year but continue to lag behind whites, a civil rights group's annual study contends.
"The theme of this year's State of Black America report is 'protecting our progress,'" National Urban League CEO Marc Morial said.
In its study, released Tuesday, the league found the standard of living for African-Americans was 72.3 percent of that of whites, on average. For Hispanics, the equality index was a bit higher, at 78.4 percent. The index measures quality of life for blacks and Hispanics in terms of economics, health, education, social justice and civic engagement.
Minority employment is at its highest level in almost a decade, but "any progress made towards racial equality is increasingly under threat." Morial said. More minorities have health care at a time when efforts are underway to roll back expanding coverage, he added.
Improvements in education
The report indicated that African-Americans made gains in education, with a growing percentage of blacks staying in school and obtaining associate degrees.
According to the report, racial disparities plague minorities in terms of social justice equality. As examples, the report noted that more blacks are jailed after being arrested than is the case with whites, and that whites posted a greater decline than blacks in their likelihood of being victims of violent crime.
The study also found a troubling rise in hate crimes committed against members of religious and racial minorities. "A nation of a great mosaic that the United States of America represents cannot tolerate hateful incidents. It is corrosive, it is divisive and it is un-American," Morial said.
The Trump administration has proposed major budget cuts to government programs that help low-income Americans, who are disproportionately black. The civil rights organization said it would press lawmakers and private groups to invest $4 trillion over the next 10 years in job training, enhanced education programs and infrastructure projects to revitalize minority communities.