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ENEWS: Racism and the Economy

Date Published: 10/15/2020

Author: Erin Wilson

Virtual sessions on racism & the economy from Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Last Wednesday, Growth & Justice staff attended the first event of a new virtual series from the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis, Atlanta and Boston called “Racism and the Economy.” It was an excellent event and we encourage you to sign up and attend the programs to come. The purpose of the series is to “[understand] the implications of structural racism in America’s economy and [advance] actions to improve economic outcomes for all.” The series will cover racism in employment, housing, education, criminal justice and more. This article from the Star Tribune details the kickoff and how the series began. Find out more and sign up for updates here. To help you obtain more background on the great work Mpls Fed is doing in this arena, see the second issue of the Fed’s Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute's magazine, For All, dedicated to making a difference by researching and pursuing an economy that works for all.

“The cost of racism” is $16 trillion GDP loss since 2000

A recent article from National Public Radio says that the U.S. has lost an estimated $16 trillion in gross domestic product since 2000 due to discrimination against Black people, according to a study from the bank Citigroup. They obtained this number by identifying four main disparities between Black people and white people in the U.S. First, the study estimates that discriminatory lending to Black entrepreneurs resulted in a loss of $13 trillion in potential business revenue, and because of this, about 6.1 million jobs were not created. Second, the wage gaps affecting Black people resulted in a $2.7 trillion income loss. Third, discrimination in relation to housing credit cost $218 billion over the last two decades. And fourth, the economy lost somewhere between $90 billion and $113 billion in lifetime income loss because of discrimination in relation to higher education access. Citigroup says if the U.S. were to address these areas of discrimination and disparity, the economy could experience a $5 trillion boost over the next five years. 

EPI: “America’s Racist Economy” 

The Economic Policy Institute’s debut episode of their State of Working America podcast, which broadcasted exactly one year ago today, was titled “America’s Racist Economy” and featured economist Valerie Wilson, director of EPI’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. Wilson talked about the key role that racism plays in the U.S. economy and how it perpetuates economic disparities. Those gaps have appeared to grow larger in recent years, Wilson said. This podcast episode is prescient, and its content remains extremely relevant, particularly in the time of COVID-19 and the disparities it has revealed and exacerbated, and the widespread movements demanding racial justice. 

Blueprint Breakfasts: Environmental Resilience Oct 14 link; Democracy on Oct 28 

If you missed yesterday’s Environmental Resilience Blueprint Breakfast with Amy Fredregill of the MN Sustainable Growth Coalition, you can watch or listen to it here! Tune in to our next (and last!) Blueprint Breakfast in this series, which will be on democracy and the future of work. We will be joined by Kevin Lindsey, CEO of the MN Humanities Center and a board member of Growth & Justice. Following the presidential election in November, we plan to host a new series of Blueprint Breakfasts to identify priorities for the 2021 legislative agenda. 


“I think when we start to look at economic outcomes in the United States and we consider how those outcomes look differently for different racial and ethnic groups... the most general statement that I can make is that those racial economic disparities are large, and they are persistent. It’s very difficult to identify a certain statistic, whether it be wages, whether it be the unemployment rate, net worth, income, poverty, where there is not a clear disparity based on race and ethnicity.” - Valerie Wilson, economist & director of the EPI's Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy 

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