Biden to speak on racial wealth gap at Sharpton conference

By Thomson Reuters Apr 12, 2024 | 1:43 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will talk about efforts to close the racial wealth gap, one of the United States most persistent inequalities, in a speech to Reverend Al Sharpton’s racial justice conference in New York on Friday, the White House said.

Biden, who is working to shore up support among Black voters ahead of his November rematch with former President Donald Trump, will contrast his policies with Republican efforts to cut funding for executive orders on racial equity, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and Social Security.

New data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency shows a 40% cut in the gap between home appraisals in majority white communities versus those in communities of color after the agency started to crack down on what it calls appraisal bias, the White House said.

Home appraisals are just one factor in a wealth gap that has persisted for hundreds of years, fed by federal and local policies on everything from hiring practices to highway construction.

Some data shows it is getting worse, despite Biden’s efforts.

Inflation-adjusted wealth of white households in the U.S. grew faster than that of Black and Hispanic households from the start of 2019 through the third quarter of last year, with Black households in particular now worse off than they were before the pandemic, a New York Fed study released in February concluded.

Biden won the 2020 election with 92% backing from Black Americans, but their support is less certain this year, with a Pew Research Center poll in January finding about 49% of Black adults disapproved of Biden’s performance.

The White House said Biden will also announce that a record $76.2 billion, or 12.1%, of federal contracting dollars went to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) in fiscal 2023, close to his goal of reaching 15% of such contracts by 2025.

White House economists say eliminating racial disparities in business ownership rates would narrow the racial wealth gap by 22% between Black and white households and by 17% between Latino and white households.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons and Ros Russell)