Study Finds Median Wealth For Single Black Women Is Only $5

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That is not a typo. Just $5:

Women of all races bring home less income and own fewer assets, on average, than men of the same race, but for single black women the disparities are so overwhelmingly great that even in their prime working years their median wealth amounts to only $5. [..]

See this graph of racial disparities in income

"It's rather shocking," said Meizhu Lui, director of the Closing the Gap Initiative based in Oakland, Calif., who contributed to the report "Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth and America's Future." [.pdf]

Among the most startling revelations in the wealth data is that while single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600 (still only 61 percent of their single white male counterparts), the median wealth for single black women is only $5.

"Even for those of us who have been looking at the wealth gap for a while, we were shocked and amazed at how little women of color have," Ms. Lui said.[..]

Black women, in general, were more likely to have participated in the subprime loan crisis with upper-income black women being five times more likely to have received a high-cost mortgage than upper-income white men.

"The popular image is they spend too much, which is the reason they are running up credit card and consumer debt, but the cost of living has risen faster than income, and they need to go into debt for basic daily necessities," Ms. Lui said. "It's compounded because unemployment is twice as high in the black community than it is in the white community."

For all working-age black women 18 to 64, the financial picture is bleak. Their median household wealth is only $100. Hispanic women in that age group have a median wealth of $120. Read more

I'm dumbfounded by this study. Could there be a starker example of the haves and have-nots? Don't glide over the statistic either, that upper-income black women were FIVE times more likely to be offered a high-cost (and riskier) home loan than upper-income white men. Racial profiling home mortgages, lovely. A recent study in Pittsburgh found that 70% of African-American families are headed by single women. Families. With a median wealth of $5.

This is a larger issue than the conservatives with their flippant dismissals of "welfare queens" want to admit. The children in these households are living below poverty, with little to no safety net.

In a 2008 study of black women and their money, the ING Foundation found that black women -- who frequently manage the assets of their households -- financially support friends, family and their houses of worship to a much greater degree than the general population.

They also are more likely to be employed in jobs and industries -- such as service occupations -- with lower pay and less access to health insurance. And when their working days are done, they rely most heavily on Social Security because they are less likely to have personal savings, retirement accounts or company pensions. Their Social Security benefits are likely to be lower, too, because of their low earnings.

Rather than strictly comparing income, researchers in the Insight study looked at the wealth gap. The current economic crisis has shown that a person's wealth affects not only retirement security, but also a person's ability to handle financial setbacks such as a job loss or a health emergency.

High unemployment and high incarceration rates for black men also lower the likelihood of single black women finding a partner to help build a more secure financial future.

Ms. Lui said the Insight report would be used to encourage the government to close the wealth gap and improve the outlook for women of color, just as it did for Americans who received land through the Homestead Act, and education through the GI bill.

"If wealth was based on hard work, African-Americans would be the wealthiest people in our nation," she said. "It's not about behavior. It's about government policies. Who does the government help and who is it not helping?

That, my friends, is the question that all liberals ask and conservative ignore.

UPDATE: And to punctuate the point, we hear about the death of former legislator Juanita Goggins of South Carolina who froze to death alone in a rented home, apparently suffering from dementia and who was not discovered until two weeks later. Though she had the money, her electricity was turned off three days after she died, indicating that she had not paid her bills.

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