The ever-widening wealth gap between African Americans and whites just got wider.
According to a new study by the Urban Institute’s Opportunity and Ownership Project, white families averaged six times the wealth of black and Hispanic households ($632,000 versus $98,000 and $110,000, respectively)
The income gap, by comparison, is much smaller, according to the study. In 2010, the average household income for whites was $89,000, about twice the $46,000 average for black and Hispanic families.
So why are black and Hispanics consistently behind in income and wealth? Here are four key reasons: inequality in home ownership, income, education, and family inheritances.
Inheritances also make it easier for some families to build wealth. Among the families studied, whites were five times more likely to inherit money than blacks, and their typical inheritances were 10 times as large, according to CNN. And when it comes to education, black college graduates are often more saddled with college loans, making it harder for them to start socking away savings than their white peers. Four in five black students graduate with debt, compared to 64% of whites.
Discrimination is also a serious concern. African Americans are generally overworked, underpaid and undervalued. There are numerous racial discrimination suits pending in courts across America where black men and woman are claiming, correctly, that they have been discriminated against in the workplace.
In 2011, according to statistics, the “most popular” form of employment discrimination in the U.S. was racial discrimination. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received a total of 35,395 complaints nationwide in 2011.
“Racial or ethnic discrimination in the workplace can rear its head in a variety of forms, some of which can be subtle, such as an employer’s failure to hire or promote based on race, or downright obvious such as racial slurs,” Black Enterprise reported. “Whichever form it takes, racial discrimination in the workplace is strictly prohibited by a number of federal and state laws.”
There’s no question that racism in the workplace plays a critical role in the lack of wealth generated by black Americans. If black folks make less, it’s hard to afford luxuries like nice homes, vacations, private schools, nannies, and basics like affordable health care.
But there’s also another reason black folks lag behind whites in wealth: Black Americans, generally, don’t save as much as whites so black folks don’t amass generational wealth.
“Wealth isn’t just money in the bank, it’s insurance against tough times, tuition to get a better education and a better job, savings to retire on, and a springboard into the middle class. In short, wealth translates into opportunity,” Signe-Mary McKernan, Caroline Ratcliffe, Eugene Steuerle, and Sisi Zhang wrote in “Less than Equal: Racial Disparities in Wealth Accumulation.”
Because Hispanics and blacks are disproportionately low income earners, the researchers said, their wealth prospects are strongly affected by safety net policies aimed at low-income families.
Are you being paid sufficiently on your job? Have you been a victim of racial discrimination?
And do you save money regularly in a bank savings account?
What do you think?