For Black Women, the Wealth Gap is Worse than the Wage Gap

If you spent any time on social media this week you saw that women still have a LONG way to go to reach pay parity with men.  We celebrated (if that’s the correct way to say it) Equal Pay Day on April 10th.  This is the day when ALL women – Black, White, Latina, and Asian – finally catch up to white men’s earnings.  Why?  Because we had to work 3 months and 10 days MORE in 2018 to make the same amount (for the same jobs!) that white men made in 2017.  Aargh!

But, and I’m sorry to break this to you, for Black women, the WEALTH gap is even worse than the wage gap!

In fact, Black women’s wealth (what you own versus what you owe) is disturbingly low because of decades of racist housing and asset building policies, like redlining and the GI Bill which left Black families out.  As you can see from the chart above, median wealth for single Black women is a mere $200.  And Latinas are fairing even worse!

What’s troubling is that even when we compare the wealth of middle-class white and Black households or families, we are still so far behind!

The wealth divide matters because having assets means so much more than having a savings account.  Having wealth means having the ability to:

  • weather the inevitable ups and downs of the job market;
  • get your first degree or go back to school;
  • start and invest in your own business;
  • buy a home;
  • send your kids to college; and,
  • pass something on to your children.

Income alone, simply can’t buy you these opportunities or piece of mind.

The upcoming midterm elections are a great time to talk to our legislators and each other about what we are going to do to make significant strides in building wealth for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

There are lots of PROVEN policy interventions that put more money in our pockets and help people save.  We outlined some of them here.  If you want a comprehensive look at the government intervention and structural change that is necessary to get us out of this mess, read The Road to Zero Wealth: How the Racial Wealth Divide is Hollowing Out America’s Middle Class by Prosperity Now.

Jocelyn