The Wealth Factor

African American affluence is on the rise

The number of affluent African Americans rose in 2001, according to a report issued by Houston research firm International Demographics Inc. The report, titled The Media Audit, surveyed 122,180 adults ages 18 and older in 85 U.S. metropolitan markets. Of these, 11,845 were African American.

The percentage of African American adults with household incomes of $75,000 or more per year increased to 16.5% of those surveyed in 2001, up from 14.9% in 2000, or 2.845 million individuals, up from 2.491 million. For African Americans in households earning $100,000 or more annually, that rate increased to 7.4%, up from 6.5% of those polled, or 1.275 million, up from 1.089 million.

Despite these rising numbers, African Americans still have a way to go when compared to national figures. Overall, adults with annual household incomesof $75,000 or more rose to 24.3% or 31.19 million individuals, up from 22.6% or 28.28 million adults. The number of households earning more than $100,000 annually increased to 12.7% or 16.31 million in 2001, up from 11.9% or 14.89 million people in 2000.

These numbers have been higher as a result of nearly 10 years of economic expansion that was cut short by the recession, which started in March 2001. “They were probably getting the tail end of the expansion,” says Margaret Simms of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., and a member of the BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of Economists. Another factor, according to Simms, is higher levels of education among African Americans.

These numbers don’t include the effects of the 2001 recession since they’re based on earnings generated in 2000.

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