The nation continues to battle the excess deaths, assaults on democracy, and economic hardships that shot up during the pandemic and have yet to wane.  Today, we’re releasing our latest Pandemic to Prosperity: South report, a timely and comprehensive data overview of impacts on Southerners’ lives and livelihoods, governments, civic institutions, and overall well-being. This issue includes a specific focus on racial and ethnic disparities. 


State and local governments prioritizing investments for the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act can use these findings to target disparities that ultimately undermine community resilience and prosperity. Some new key findings in the report can be found below.

  • DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS: The mental health shocks associated with the pandemic, along with the increasing impact of fentanyl, caused rates of drug overdose deaths to spike to 98,000 in 2022, 40% above pre-pandemic rates. Drug overdose death rates have been highest among American Indians and white Americans but, since 2020, the rate of drug overdose deaths among Black Americans has surpassed the rate of white Americans.  
  • STATE SUPREME COURT REPRESENTATION: 11 of 12 Southern states have supreme courts that lack the racial diversity of the state’s population. Diverse judiciaries are important as they promote a more robust, deliberative process and richer jurisprudence.
  • GUN DEATHS AMONG CHILDREN: Gun deaths among children increased 50% in two years, reaching a high of 2,590 deaths in 2021. Black kids are about 5 times more likely than white and Hispanic kids to die from guns. Firearms are now the leading cause of death for children in the nation.
  • DIFFICULTY PAYING EXPENSES: Nearly half of Black and Hispanic adults struggled to make ends meet in June 2023. So did one-third of white and Asian adults. The end of stimulus and child tax credits in 2021 combined with high inflation in 2022 added up such that by June 2023, more than 1 in 3 American households was having difficulty paying for usual household expenses.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email