African Americans Are Poorer Than They Were 5 Years Ago: Study

A new study detailing the economic and financial progress African Americans have made between 2013 and 2018, found African Americans were more likely to be unemployed than Americans overall in that time frame.

According to Afro, the study, conducted by Lending Tree, found that African American unemployment fell by 36% between 2013 and 2018 to 10.6%. However, the unemployment rate was still 5% higher than the unemployment rate for Americans as a whole.

“In almost every metric we examined, African Americans realized slower growth than the country as a whole, but they did outpace their peers when it comes to higher education,” Lending Tree Lead Researcher Kali McFadden said.

The study revealed the median household income for African Americans in 2018 was $40,155. However, that figure is more than $20,000 less than the median household income for Americans as a whole.

The study did reveal some positive news: more African Americans are getting degrees and closing the higher education gap. The percentage of African Americans with a bachelor’s degree rose from 18.6% in 2013 to 21.1% in 2018, a 13.5 % increase. The increase for Americans as a whole was just 9.4%—from 28.8% in 2013 to 31.5% in 2018.

However, McFadden said the numbers didn’t translate into more economic prosperity for African Americans.

“You know, we’d really hope that education would create a more even playing field and the fact that African Americans are exceeding the growth rate in higher education degrees shows a lot of things. It shows achievement, and it shows that families are directing their children, and it shows a lot of groundswell for entering the professional working world.”

McFadden added that student loans have affected African Americans more than others in addition to the lack of funding for historically black colleges and universities.

HBCUs just don’t have the endowments that the most prestigious schools have. We have reports that show where parents are borrowing to send their kids to school, and those debts are harder to pay,” McFadden said. “If you’re less likely to come from a family that has the kind of wealth that can help support your schooling, it’s obviously going to be a problem in terms of accumulating debt.”

It’s no secret that African Americans are impacted harder by student debt. The student debt crisis has disproportionately impacted black borrowers with more student debt than most Americans. Last year, both the House and the Senate passed a bill permanently funding HBCUs.