African-American Personal Finance: Down, Not Out

A 2011 report on “The State of the African-American Consumer” estimates that, “With a buying power of nearly $1 trillion annually, if African-Americans were a country, they’d be the 16th largest country in the world.” Easily the largest minority, its headcount of 43 million is 16.3% of the total US population. But as our infographic shows, African-Americans are disadvantaged in just about every area of personal finance.

Down in savings compared to white Americans and more likely to dip into retirement savings for daily expenses. Worried even about daily expenses, keeping the roof above their heads, keeping the debt collector away, and keeping their  credit scores up. Income has a lot to do with this, as even higher-earning African-American households have lower incomes than average white American households. Affecting this income gap, too, are the knowledge and use of investment opportunities and other financial products.

The upside to all this is that a 2011 study on The African American Financial Experience reveals that  two-thirds of African-American households with incomes greater than US$50,000 have a strong desire to find financial solutions to meet their goals. They are largely self-directed, resourceful, and exhibit a highly entrepreneurial spirit. They’re confident about the ability to make wise financial decisions, and have high optimism about the country’s ability to rebound from financial crises. For a sector that shows great concern for both family and community when making financial decisions, the signs are good.