When a press release crossed my desk on Martin Luther King Jr. Day that said Hawai‘i is 2019’s “3rd Most Racially Integrated State,” I smiled. Of course it is. Those of us who live here have known we are a fairly integrated state, but statistics about being the “most” or the second or third keep surfacing.
Upon digging, I discovered that WalletHub, the website that conducted the research, is the “first-ever website to offer free credit scores and full credit reports that are updated on a daily basis.” If you’re wondering what makes a personal-finance website an expert in racial integration studies, you are not alone. In lieu of an assignment to conduct independent research, we will share WalletHub’s findings.
To measure America’s progress in harmonizing racial groups, WalletHub measured the gaps between blacks and whites across 22 key indicators of equality and integration in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The indicators range from median annual income and standardized-test scores to voter turnout and home ownership rates.
The report, according to WalletHub, examines the differences between black and white populations only, in light of the high-profile police-brutality incidents that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement and the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The study did not seem to factor in the total number of African-Americans living in each state. For example, the top five racially integrated states in the WalletHub survey are New Mexico, West Virginia, Hawai‘i, Kentucky, and Texas. However, New Mexico, West Virginia and Hawai‘i’s populations are less than 4 percent black – 2.3 percent in Hawai‘i specifically, according to U.S. Bureau of the Census. This reporter questions whether you get a fair ranking if you don’t take into consideration that some states have a far greater population of African Americans than others.
Without doing our own statistical research, we report that WalletHub ranked Hawai‘i as the most integrated when it comes to median annual income gap, labor-force participation rate gap, poverty rate gap, and standardized-test scores gap. Hawai‘i was ranked 26 for home ownership rate gap, with 25 being the average. The state was ranked 10th in the gap in percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma, bringing its overall national rank to 3rd, according to the most recent data WalletHub considered.
The personal-finance site also noted that 58 percent of Americans say increased diversity makes the U.S. a better place while only 9 percent say it makes the U.S. worse, as part of its 2019 report on states with the most racial progress.
Image courtesy PAR