Nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st century, Black Americans continue to face significant financial inequality. In 2021, the median income of Black households was almost $23,000 less than the median income of all households nationally, according to Census Bureau data. And the income gap between Black and white households was even greater, with white families outpacing their Black counterparts by more than $28,000 in the same year.
The economic environment for Black Americans can vary from place to place. SmartAsset set out to determine the areas where Black Americans fare best economically. We used Census Bureau data to rank 133 places on six metrics including household income, homeownership and education, among others. Our rankings are based solely on economic data and do not take into account the social climate or other factors that may contribute to racial inequality in a place. For more details about our data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, read our Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s second study on the places where Black Americans fare best economically. You can read the 2021 edition here.
- Black Americans fare best in places with less than 500,000 residents. The average population of the top 10 places in our study where Black Americans fare best economically is just over 260,000. Colorado Springs, home to approximately 484,000 people, is the largest out of those 10 places.
- Murfreesboro ranks at the top with the lowest Black poverty rate. According to our metrics, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is the place where Black Americans fare best economically. Located about 35 miles southeast of Nashville, Murfreesboro has a poverty rate of 8% among Black residents, which is the lowest in our study.
- Two places in Southern Virginia rank in the top 10. Chesapeake and Virginia Beach in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia claim third and sixth place, respectively. This is due in part to a relatively high Black median income and percentage of Black business owners for both areas.
1. Murfreesboro, TN
The 8% poverty rate among Black residents isn’t the only reason why Murfreesboro ranks at the top of our study. Black households here have a median income of $94,972 per year, which is the second-highest out of the 133 places we examined. Murfreesboro also has the second-highest Black labor force participation rate (78.1%) and the third-highest Black homeownership rate (62.42%) across our study.
2. Enterprise CDP, Nevada
Enterprise, an unincorporated community outside Las Vegas, has the sixth-highest homeownership rate among Black residents (56.28%) and the eighth-highest median Black household income ($84,023). While Enterprise is home to roughly 245,000 people, 36.5% of Black residents hold a bachelor’s degree (12th-highest). Additionally, over 73% of Black residents age 16 and older are in the labor force (12th-highest).
3. Chesapeake, VA
The area in which Chesapeake is located has the fourth-highest percentage of Black business owners (6.83%). The city itself has roughly 251,000 residents and the seventh-highest Black homeownership rate (55.88%), which denotes the percentage of Black housing units that are owner-occupied. Black households here also earn a median income of $81,031, the ninth-highest across our study.
4. Pembroke Pines, FL
Located southwest of Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines has the 11th-lowest poverty rate for Black residents at 12.4%. The median income for Black households here is the third-highest ($90,524) out of the 133 places in our study. Pembroke Pines also has just over 169,000 people and the fifth-highest Black homeownership rate (56.91%).
5. Aurora, IL
With more than 183,000 residents, Aurora has one of the highest percentages of Black residents who own their homes. Over 57% of Black housing units are owner-occupied, giving Aurora the fourth-highest Black homeownership rate in our study. It also has the seventh-lowest percentage of Black residents living below the poverty level (11.2%). Additionally, Aurora has the 22nd-highest labor force participation rate among Black residents (69.8%).
6. Virginia Beach, VA
Virginia Beach is also located in the area that has the fourth-highest percentage of Black business owners (6.83%) in our study, like the neighboring Chesapeake. And with almost 460,000 people, it also has the 12th-highest labor force participation rate among Black residents (73.4%). The median income for Black households in Virginia Beach is $60,185 per year, which ranks in the top 20th percentile of our analysis.
7. Chandler, AZ
No place in our study has a higher percentage of Black residents with a bachelor’s degree than Chandler, where 45.6% of Black adults have earned undergraduate diplomas. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the median income for Black households in Chandler is the sixth-highest across our study ($86,648). Additionally, this Phoenix suburb of nearly 280,000 people has the eighth-highest labor force participation rate among Black residents (74.8%).
8. Grand Prairie, TX
Located between Dallas and Arlington in Texas, Grand Prairie has almost 200,000 people and the 15th-highest Black labor force participation rate (72.8%). Over 37% of Black adults here have a bachelor’s degree, which ranks ninth-highest out of 133 places in our study. Grand Prairie also has the 18th-highest median income for Black households ($62,923) across our study.
9. Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs has the eighth-lowest poverty rate for Black residents (11.6%) across our study. In fact, over 71% of Black residents age 16 and over are in the labor force, which is higher than 116 other places that we studied. Additionally, 32.4% of Black adults in Colorado Springs have a bachelor’s degree, which ranks 22nd overall.
10. Elk Grove, CA
Elk Grove is home to the fifth-highest median income for Black households ($89,045) and the sixth-lowest poverty rate for Black residents (11.1%). Meanwhile, this suburb of Sacramento also has the 11th-highest Black homeownership rate (49.53%) across our study, cementing it among the top 10 places where Black Americans fare best economically.
Data and Methodology
To find the cities where Black Americans fare best economically, SmartAsset looked at the 200 largest cities in the U.S. Only 133 of those cities had complete data available and we compared them across six metrics:
- Median Black household income. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Black homeownership rate. This is the number of Black owner-occupied housing units divided by the number of Black occupied housing units. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Black labor force participation rate. This is for the Black population 16 years and older. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Poverty rate for Black residents. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Percentage of Black adults with a bachelor’s degree. This is for the Black population 25 years and older. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Percentage of business owners who are Black. This is the number of Black-owned businesses with paid employees divided by the number of businesses with paid employees. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 Annual Business Survey and is at the metro area level. Some areas did not meet Census publication standards and were not reported.
To determine our final list, we ranked each city in every metric, giving an equal weighting to all metrics except the percentage of business owners who are Black, which was half-weighted. We then found each city’s average ranking. The city with the best average ranking places first in our study while the city with the lowest average ranking places last.
Tips for Strengthening a Financial Foundation
- Build an emergency fund. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that only 36% of Black Americans had emergency funds with enough money to cover three months’ worth of living expenses. As a rule of thumb, experts recommend putting aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses to keep you afloat in case you suffer a job loss, an unexpected illness or incur a significant expense.
- Start planning for retirement. The Federal Reserve’s most recent Survey of Consumer Finances found that only 35% of Black Americans have retirement accounts and only $35,000 saved. It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. SmartAsset’s Retirement Calculator can help you determine how much money you’ll need to save and our Social Security Calculator can help you estimate how much your Social Security benefits will be in the future.
- Hire a professional. A financial advisor can help you invest your money, plan for retirement and make major financial decisions. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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