Poll Finds Blacks Struggle With Financial Instruments

African-Americans are at a disadvantage in terms of wealth acquisition.

Posted: 02/24/2011 04:44 PM EST
Chase Bank

A new poll the Washington Post finds that many Blacks have no retirement accounts, investments, or, in some cases, checking accounts.

For literally centuries now, the African-American community has struggled with its finances. One study last year found that the average single Black woman’s wealth was a mere $5. That’s next to nothing, especially considering that the median wealth for white women is $41,000. And even though women tend to make less than men, $41,000 is still vastly more than the median wealth sum for Black men, $7,900.

The fact is that Blacks are lagging far behind whites when it comes to wealth acquisition and maintenance, and that leads to a whole host of other problems with education, crime, health, and safety.

Thanks to the poll, we’ve now got some indication about why Blacks aren’t obtaining money the way their white counterparts are. Besides working at low-paying jobs more often than whites, African-Americans also are less savvy with the money they do have.

According to the poll, only one in four Blacks owns stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. And less than half of all Blacks have an individual retirement account. Conversely, about half of whites owned stock and two out of three had retirement plans established, the poll found.

Nearly one in five Blacks doesn’t even have a checking or savings account, forcing them to rely on predatory and expensive check-cashing stores.

Though this is troubling for a number of reasons, the dearth of retirement accounts in the Black community is especially disheartening as America considers raising the retirement age in order to ease the deficit.

“If the retirement age goes from 67 to 69, the practical effect will be bigger reductions for people who claim it at 62,” says Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research. “Low-skill workers, who are already paid less, would just get less from the program.”

 

Image:  Chris Hondro /  Getty Images

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