The state of Wisconsin is home to “extreme racial disparity” compared to other states in economic opportunity, education and incarceration, says a new report by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.
“Wisconsin has the regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation in terms of racial equality,” begins the report by COWS, a nonprofit think tank based at UW-Madison.
The report pulls together data from public sources to illustrate the depth and breadth of racial disparities in the state.
For example, the African-American unemployment rate in Wisconsin was 19 percent in 2012 — three times that of whites. That disparity was exceeded by only two states, Nebraska and Iowa.
Wisconsin has the highest level of disparity in drop-out rates. Only 1.2 percent of whites in the state dropped out of high school in 2009-2010, compared to 7.5 percent of African Americans. No state came anywhere near that level of disparity.
And only Minnesota has a worse disparity in the rate of incarceration among men. Wisconsin locks up 12.8 percent of African-American men, the highest rate in the country, and just 1.2 percent of white men at 1.2 percent, just below the national average.
The COWS report also looks at poverty rate, health insurance coverage, high school graduation rates and other measures.
The stark racial disparities are the result of both relatively good outcomes for white Wisconsin and worse than the national average outcomes for black residents of the state, say the study’s authors.
“The vitality of our economy, the prosperity of our state, and the health and well-being of all our communities are threatened by the racial disparity that plagues Wisconsin,” they conclude.
Their “litany” of poor outcomes may add urgency to efforts to close the gap, they say.