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Economic Picture Improves For Blacks In Virginia, Report Finds

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African-Americans in Virginia are making economic progress, but a gap persists in their levels of employment and earnings, a new study shows. 

Michelle Claibourn, who studies population trends at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, took a close look at census data for more than 50,000 Virginians. Despite a history of discrimination against African Americans in the state, she found more of them were getting college degrees -- but economic disparities persist

"Black adult Virginians with a college degree who work full time had a median income of $50,000," she says. "White Virginians with a college degree who work full time had a median income of $60,000, so a $10,000 gap, which is about a 17 percent difference."

In addition, a larger percentage of African-Americans in Virginia are out of work, she says. 

"While unemployment for whites with a high school degree in 2010 was 15 percent, for blacks it was 22 percent," she says. "And you see those kinds of disparities across educational levels." Claibourn noted 20 percent of African Americans in Virginia had a college degree, compared to 37 percent of whites — so although college attendance numbers among blacks are improving, the state's legacy of discrimination has had lasting impacts.

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