Effects of COVID Widen America’s Racial Wealth Gap: Blacks own 22 cents for every dollar whites hold

While the issues raised by the Federal Reserve and Harvard may sound like variations on an old theme, 150-year-old global finance company Goldman Sachs is urging the public and private sectors to invest in a targeted and sustained manner to close the gap of racial wealth in the United States. . Although the report focuses on black women, its projected results would also benefit black men.

“If the improvements benefit black women and men, we estimate a larger increase in US employment of 1.7 million jobs and US gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.1%, this which is $ 450 billion a year. “

Entitled “Black Womenomics: Investing in the Underinvested,” the March 2021 report calls for access to capital, education, equitable income, health care and housing to lay the groundwork to reverse the disadvantages historic while creating financial independence and personal wealth.

Most importantly, the report calls for the participation of black people – and especially black women – to shape their own futures.

“[A]All efforts to effectively solve problems can only be successful if black women are actively involved in formulating strategies and shaping results. In addition, tackling discrimination and prejudice will be fundamental for real and lasting progress … The large wealth gap faced by single black women is particularly important as black women are increasingly likely to be mothers. single and breadwinner… Among black mothers, over 80 percent are breadwinners compared to 50 percent of white mothers, ”the report said.

How existing financial disparities make black women more financially vulnerable can be found in the report’s data points:

• Black women face a 90 percent wealth gap;

• The pay gap for black women widens throughout their working life, and especially rapidly between the ages of 20 and 35;

• Black women are five times more likely than white men to use expensive payday loans;

• Black women are almost three times more likely to forgo prescription drugs, and also much more likely than white men not to see a doctor because they cannot afford it; and

• The median of single black women do not own a home, and single black women are 24 times less likely than single white men to own a business.

Additionally, the country’s affordable housing shortage translates into 85 percent of black women whose families face housing costs ranging from over 30 percent to 50 percent of their income. Once the monthly rent is paid, these overburdened households have little to cover utilities, food, childcare or other household needs.

According to a recent analysis from the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), even black families earning a median income will need 14 years to save 5% down payment.

A legacy of historically low incomes and little intergenerational wealth available to be passed down through families leaves most black Americans without the comparable financial benefits enjoyed by other races and ethnicities.

These and other circumstances lead many women – especially women of color – to turn to high cost loans of just a few hundred dollars. While the typical $ 350 payday loan is marketed as a short-term solution to an unexpected expense, the reality for many low-income people is that the high-cost loan – which can carry interest of up to 400% – becomes yet another long term. – a long-term financial burden which worsens financial tensions at each renewal.

“Predatory high-interest lenders are dragging people into financial quicksand, making them more susceptible to a range of harms, such as losing their bank account, defaulting on bills, losing their car and the declaration of bankruptcy. It’s low-income consumers and communities of color disproportionately – targeted by lenders – who are being harmed, ”CRL’s Ashley Harrington said in testimony this summer before the US Senate Banking Committee. United.

The harms of wealth inequality also extend to the wider U.S. economy, according to the Goldman Sachs report. In her view, expanding opportunities for black women who are often at the bottom of the economic ladder can create a path to individual and national prosperity. “Overcoming these unfavorable economic trends would not only create a fairer society, but also a richer one. We estimate that tackling the black women’s income gap could create 1.2 to 1.7 million jobs in the United States and increase the level of US gross domestic product (GDP) from 1.4 to 2.1. % each year, or $ 300 to $ 450 billion in current dollars.

The sum of these results underscores the frustration felt by much of black America. The Civil War ended slavery and promised the emancipated 40 acres and a mule. The civil rights laws of the 1960s promised to eliminate discrimination in voting, housing and public housing. Second, affirmative action programs of the 1970s promised equal employment opportunities in areas previously off limits to blacks and other people of color.

It is time for this nation to keep its age-old promises. Creating neighborhoods of opportunity from pockets of poverty would strengthen cities and suburbs. If corporate leadership joined with administration and Congress in ensuring that black America and other people of color share in the nation’s prosperity, everyone would be better off.

No person and certainly no community will ever beg to get out of poverty. But down payment assistance for first-generation mortgage homebuyers would be a family estate. Likewise, the creation of an equity investment fund intended for small black businesses in difficulty would preserve the neighborhood’s opportunities, including more permanent jobs.

In the timeless words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Everything we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’

Charlene Crowell is a senior member of the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at [email protected]

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