YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A study released last week by Youngstown State University seeks to measure socio-economic disparities in local communities among white and black residents.
Dr. Frank Akpadock, of the Regional Economic Development Initiative at YSU, authored the study titled “The State of Blacks and African Americans in the Mahoning Valley.”
The study concluded by saying, “there exists a measurable disparity in economic achievements between Black/African American residents and White residents in the Mahoning Valley.”
Tom Conley, CEO of the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League — which commissioned the study — has a copy sitting on his desk.
“The areas that stood out with me was the area of unemployment, the disparity there, especially between the two counties,” he said.
From 2010 to 2014, unemployment for blacks in Mahoning County was 25 percent, while it was only 8 percent for whites. Trumbull County’s black unemployment rate was 11 percent and again, 8 percent for whites.
The biggest gaps were in median income. The study found that whites make twice as much as blacks.
Business ownership, where whites own 88 percent and blacks just 8 percent, and home ownership also show a huge gap between the two races. It found 87 percent of white residents own their homes, while only 10 percent of black residents do.
“We want to really get to the point in future years at really pinpointing that, seeing why African Americans are not being approved for housing loans and what can we do to change that,” Conley said.
The most surprising numbers were in education — they were better than expected.
Of the people over 25 without high school educations in Mahoning County, only 22 percent were black and 66 percent white. The gap was even wider in Trumbull County with 9 percent black and 88 percent white.
“Those are things we really want to hone in on and see, what does that really mean? That was startling,” Conley said.
The study also found between 2009 and 2013, 27 percent of black/African American residents received public assistance in Youngstown compared to 14 percent of white and 35 percent of Hispanic/Latino residents. Forty-percent of black/African American residents received public assistance in Warren compared to 56 percent of white and 3 percent of Hispanic/Latino residents.
Still, 29 percent of black/African American residents lived below the poverty level in Mahoning County, while only 9 percent of white residents did.
In conclusion, the study says ways to create opportunities for black children and reduce the disparities are to provide them with a quality education in their city. It says students need to graduate college-ready to go to a university or learn skilled trades that would support and/or facilitate their economic upward mobility.
Conley hopes the study will encourage decision makers and stakeholders to make positive changes in the communities.