The median net worth for Black women in America, according to a recent report from the Survey of Consumer Finances, is a dismal $100. If they are raising children, forget it. They have no wealth at all. The Sacramento Observer delves into why women of color face difficulties in building wealth.
In the years since the onset of the Great Recession, Black women are the only group that have not regained the jobs they lost before the economic downturn. In fact, the unemployment rate has actually risen for Black women — from 8.2 percent in December to 9.2 percent.
Black women, in particular, were hit hard by the stagnating economy because the recession dragged the service and public sectors, where African-American women are overrepresented, into a downsizing frenzy. On top of that, as the cost of living continues to rise, wage growth is at a standstill.
“Even if wages had been growing, the wage gap persists – and not even education can bridge the chasm. Consider: Black women with master’s degrees earn slightly less than Black men with bachelor’s, and White men, Asians, and Latinos with associates or post-secondary degrees,” SacObserver added, referring to the 2013 Census Population Survey.
With this wage disparity, Black women do not possess enough disposable income to risk putting their hard-earned money into strategic investments such as real estate, stocks, appreciating valuables (e.g. wines and collectibles), and businesses.
As a result, Black women do not have a legacy to pass on to their children. Wealth in America is mainly acquired through inheritance above all else. “When people say Black people are somehow inferior, or are doing something wrong as to why they don’t have wealth, that is completely wrong,” William Darity, an economics professor at Duke University, said.
A high net worth cushions Americans from unexpected expenditures. This allows families to be less reliant on individual paychecks for financial security. “For those who lack wealth, they find themselves in precarious, vulnerable situations… and those faced by Black women are perhaps more severe,” Darity said.
A quarter of Black American women over the age of 65, SacObserver added, rely on Social Security benefits as their only source of income.
When living paycheck to paycheck fails, entitlement programs are the only safety nets that are preventing middle and lower class families from falling into destitution.
The Atlantic said it best: “The poor spend relatively more on what will keep them alive, because they must, and the rich spend more on what will keep them rich, because they can.”