Racial Disparity

Desired Trend


Current Trend

Baseline (2010): 1.88
Current (2021): 1.87

Theme Prosperous


Ratio of white median household income to black median household income

Why is it Important?

Racial disparities such as the gap in income between whites and blacks are serious roadblocks to building a sustainable and equitable society.1 The disparity in income is due to a variety of factors, which include differences in work experience, education, and choice of occupation but may also be due to discrimination, whether unconscious or overt. Addressing these factors and closing the gap will increase choice and opportunity for all residents, regardless of race.

How are we Doing?

The disparity between white and black median household income was about the same in 2021, 1.87, as it was in 2010, 1.88. In 2021, the average white (non-Hispanic) household in St. Louis earned $77,695, almost twice as much as the average black (non-Hispanic) household income of $41,562. The racial disparity in household income has remained fairly steady in the region since 2005, ranging from a high of 2.09 (2012) to a low of 1.82 (2016). However, over the longer time frame it has been trending higher, increasing from 1.79 in 2000.

The racial disparity in household income was higher for the St. Louis MSA than for the United States as a whole in 2021, 1.87 and 1.62, respectively. Among the 48 most populous metropolitan regions for which there is complete data, St. Louis ranks as having the 11th highest disparity in household income between whites and blacks. While there has been quite a bit of variability from year to year regarding ranking, the region consistently has greater disparity than the country as a whole. The region ranked 7th in 2017, 20th in 2016, 12th in 2014, and 17th in 2015. Many Midwest peer regions similarly have relatively large disparities in household income.

Racial Disparity STL

Geographic Level

St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). View map.


1The racial composition of the St. Louis region is largely white and African American with only 12.5 percent of the population being of other races (2021). Since the St. Louis region is largely bi-racial, this indicator focuses on the disparity between blacks and whites. 

Data Sources

U.S. Census and American Community Survey, United States Census Bureau