When the nation is in a recession, African Americans are in a depression.

The Silent Depression: State of the Dream 2009, a report issued today by United for a Fair Economy, says blacks live in poverty at three times the percentage of whites.

Despite the historic inauguration next week of an African-American man as president of the United States, an economic racial divide is stark, the report says.

Issued in connection with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the report says nearly 12 percent of blacks are unemployed, a rate nearly double that of whites.

“Eliminating the racial wealth divide is an essential step toward eliminating institutional racism,” the authors say.

The analysis also details the Latino poverty rate, which is more than twice that of whites, and Latinos’ relatively high unemployment, currently between 9 and 10 percent.

The Fair Economy organization advocates reduction in the wage gap in America and is particularly critical of high CEO compensation in the face of job loss and wage stagnation for workers.

The report emphasizes that wealth accumulation is necessary to move higher on the economic ladder.

“People of color are more likely to be poor, remain poor, and move back into poverty from any income class status than their white counterparts,” the report says. “Nearly 30 percent of blacks have zero or negative worth, versus 15 percent of whites...

“On the median, for every dollar of white wealth, people of color have 15 cents. On the average, people of color have 8 cents for every dollars of white wealth.”