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Recession Causes Income and Home Ownership Declines Among Indy’s Blacks

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The ravages of the Great Recession are sharply impacting Indianapolis’ African-American community, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) conducted by the Census Bureau reports that unemployment rose and income and home ownership fell among African-Americans in the Indianapolis area during 2008.

The 2008 ACS reported Black unemployment in Indianapolis/Marion County was 13.6 percent in 2008; and 12.5 percent in the ten county Indianapolis/Carmel Metropolitan area.

Overall unemployment in 2008, according to the ACS was 7.8 percent in the city/county and 6.3 percent in the metro.

The ACS regularly has shown unemployment in states, counties and cities across the country to be higher than the monthly surveys of unemployment conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Indiana’s department of Workforce Development.

Federal and state labor agencies don’t provide statistics for African-American unemployment in the Indianapolis area, but the ACS does,

In Indianapolis/Marion County, according to the ACS, 42.6 percent of all those unemployed last year were African-American.

Based upon that data, the Indianapolis Recorder estimates that Black unemployment in Indianapolis could now be as high as 16.5 percent.

The 2008 Census ACS also uncovered a potential sharp decline in the number of Black homeowners.

For decades, Indianapolis’ African-American community had one of the highest homeownership rates among Black communities in the country. Just above 40 percent in 1980, 42.3 percent in 1990 and 44.1 percent in 2000.

But the 2008 ACS reports Black homeownership has dropped to 39.6 percent. The ACS reported that the number of Black homeowners has potentially declined by 5,029 or 12.4 percent in the past year. That could reflect the impact of foreclosures and the weakening economy among Blacks.

The sharp drop could also reflect survey sampling variances. The American Community Survey is an annual survey of American households and housing units. Last year, 4.5 million persons nationwide were surveyed, including 101,072 persons statewide, 24,760 in the Indianapolis metro and 11,912 in the city/county. There are margins of error and sampling errors and variances as with any survey.

The 2008 ACS also reports median household income in Indiana and thirty-two other states dropped between 2007 and 2008. In Indiana, median household income fell $1,364 from $49,330 in 2007 to $47,966 in 2008; a drop of 2.8 percent.

African-American median household income in the state, metro and city fell between 2007 and 2008; in some cases the declines were pronounced.

Statewide, Black median household income fell $232 or -0.7 percent to $30,737 in 2008. In the Indianapolis metro, Black median household income fell $2,689 or -7.9 percent to $31,470; while falling $1,706 or -5.3 percent to $30,783 in Indianapolis/Marion County.

In the city/county, Black median household income declined in five townships (Center, Perry, Pike, Warren and Wayne) increasing only in Lawrence and Washington Townships.

The Black median household income decline presages an expected increase in the number of African-Americans in the state, the metro and the city living in poverty. That data will be released Monday by the American Community Survey.

The 2008 American Community Survey also marks the first time the Census Bureau has released localized data on Americans’ health insurance usage. And Indiana and Indianapolis are seemingly behind the nation in the percentage of uninsured children.

National, 9.9 percent of all children under 18 don’t have health insurance. In Indiana, 10.2% of Hoosiers children under 18 are uninsured, placing the state above the national figure.

Indianapolis/Marion County is also above the national figure with 10.6 percent of the city/county’s children uninsured. In the ten county metro, though, just 8.1 percent of children are uninsured.

Of the city/county’s seven largest townships, just three – Lawrence (6.3 percent), Pike (5.5 percent) and Washington (8.2 percent) are smaller percentages of insured children than the nation.

Four townships are above the national figure led by Wayne (15.9%), Warren (12.5%), Center (11.8%) and Perry (11.5%).

Nationally, according to Census estimates, 15.1% of persons in this country are without either private or government run health insurance.

The State of Indiana and the Indianapolis metro area are below that figure and the city of Indianapolis is barely above it.

Just 13.9 percent of Hoosiers statewide don’t have health insurance; while 12.4 percent of those in the Indianapolis metro are uninsured.

At 15.6 percent of residents uninsured, Indianapolis is slightly above the national figure. Of the city/county’s largest townships, four are below the national figure for uninsured persons – Lawrence (11.5 percent), Perry (14.3 percent), Pike (13.9 percent), Washington (12.3 percent).

Three townships are above the national figure for uninsured persons, Wayne (22.2 percent), Center (19.2 percent) and Warren (15.4 percent).

The 2008 American Community Survey data is fully available to the public. It covers states, counties, cities, townships, congressional districts and school districts with 65,000 population or more. The data can be found at http://factfinder.census.gov.

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