February 01, 2001

The Commerce Department's Census Bureau issued new data on the African American population showing that 79 percent of African Americans age 25 and over had earned at least a high school diploma and 17 percent had attained at least a bachelor's degree by March 2000. Both percentages represented record levels of educational attainment.

The Census Bureau cautioned the public not to confuse the new estimates with Census 2000 results, which are scheduled for release over the next three years.

According to the 2000 estimates, there were 8.7 million African American families. Less than one-half (48 percent) of all African American families were married-couple families, 44 percent were maintained by women with no spouse present and 8 percent were maintained by men with no spouse present.

Other highlights:

- Among African American men age 15 and over, 39 percent were currently married, 3 percent were widowed and 10 percent were divorced. Among women, the corresponding proportions were 31 percent, 10 percent and 12 percent. A similar proportion -- 42 percent -- of African American men and women had never married.

- African American families tend to be larger than White, not of Hispanic origin families. For example, 21 percent of African American married-couple families had five or more members, compared with 12 percent of their White, not Hispanic, counterparts.

- African American women, age 16 and over, were more likely than their White, not Hispanic, counterparts to participate in the labor force (64 percent compared with 61 percent). For men, the reverse was true. African American men had a participation rate of 68 percent compared with 74 percent of White, not Hispanic men.

- Among African Americans age 16 and over who were employed, 25 percent of women and 18 percent of men worked in managerial and professional specialty occupations.

- The 1999 median household income was the highest ever recorded, in real terms, for African Americans ($27,910).

- Half (51 percent) of African American married-couple families had incomes of $50,000 or more, compared with 60 percent of their White, not Hispanic, counterparts.

- In 1999, the poverty rate for African Americans fell to a record low of 23.6 percent.

- About 47 percent of African American householders were homeowners.

These findings on the African American population are available in two different products released today. One is a series of 21 tables from the March 2000 Current Population Survey (CPS) titled Black Population in the U.S.: March 2000, PPL-142, covering such topics as age, marital status, family type and size, education, occupation, income, poverty and housing. They also show comparable national data for Whites, not of Hispanic origin.

Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. The March 2000 CPS uses the 1990 census as the base for its sample.

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