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Blacks 'hurting worse' in grim US economy: Report

world Updated: Mar 26, 2009 13:32 IST

African Americans are far more likely than whites to be poor, out of work or in jail, and are "hurting worse" in the floundering US economy, a report published on Wednesday showed.

"Ironically, even as an African American man holds the highest office the country, African Americans remain twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated," the State of Black America report said.

Blacks and whites have both made progress in educational attainment, but progress was slower for African Americans, the report, which tracks trends between 2001 and 2007, showed.

The number of white children enrolled in preschool increased by about three percent, while among black children, it fell by one percent, causing the education gap to grow.

Real median household income fell 1.7 per cent for blacks and nearly four percent for whites during the period, the report said.

But the poverty rate for blacks increased nearly eight percent, while for whites it rose by around five percent.

"The election of the first black president does not mean we can all now close up shop and go home," said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League which published the report.

"President Obama has stressed that change comes from the bottom up, not the other way around," Morial said.

"It's more important than ever that the National Urban League and other organizations and individuals committed to positive change work even harder to lift up our communities and move this country forward," he said.

Martin Luther King III, the son of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, urged black Americans not to rest on their laurels now that a fellow African American is in the White House.

"His election is not the fulfilment of the dream," King wrote in a foreword to the report, referring to his father's stirring "I have a dream" speech, which outlined a vision of an America in which racial barriers have been torn down and people are judged by their character, not skin color.

The report has been published annually since 1976.