Part 1: A Financial Snapshot of Black America: #BlackMoneyMatters

Money Coach and Author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox knows all too well the struggles African Americans have when it comes to creating financial security. In her efforts to empower the community with information and resources, she also took a ‘time-out’ to paint a picture of where blacks in the United States really stand when it comes to their finances, compared to other races.

[Related: The Power of the Purse and the Polls]


As you’ll see in this two- part series, the findings are startling, particularly when it comes to employment. spoke to Khalfani-Cox about what her research revealed and takeaways that will help us all improve our relationship with money. What does your research show about how the wealth in the black community has changed over the past decade?

Khalfani-Cox: Overall, research shows that black wealth has taken a huge hit in the past decade. A lot of the decline is due to setbacks in the housing market. For African Americans, a huge part of their net worth is often tied up in their homes. And the foreclosure crisis of 2007 to 2010 disproportionately affected black homeowners, as well as other homeowners of color.

As it stands now, the average white American has a net worth that’s roughly 13 times that of the typical black American. The wealth gap between blacks and whites isn’t just shocking; it’s downright appalling and is definitely something that we all need to address — individuals, community members and policy makers.

What are some of the areas where you see improvement?

The overall picture on unemployment was actually the most surprising finding for me. Even though the Great Recession was such an economically painful period, the U.S. economy really has been gradually and steadily improving. In some cases, dramatically improving. Nowhere is this more evident than with the turnaround we’ve seen in black unemployment. I really did a deep dive into the statistics on black unemployment — not just over the past year or 10 years, but over the past four decades. Historically, the black jobless rate has almost always been about 2 to 3 times what the jobless rate is for whites. But here’s what’s most eye-opening: Over the past 40+ years, from 1975 through 2015The all-time low for African American unemployment was 7.6% in 2000. The all-time high for African American unemployment was 19.5% in 1983. The all-time low for white unemployment was 3.5% in 2000. The all-time high for white unemployment was 8.7% in 2010.  During President Obama’s 7-year tenure to date, from 2009 through 2015 The jobless rate for African Americans hit a peak of 16.7% in August 2011. The jobless rate for African Americans fell to a low of 8.3% in December 2015.

So the data shows that President Obama has actually cut the black unemployment rate in half. That’s incredible. Even more surprising, that 8.3% unemployment rate in December 2015 wasn’t far from the lowest ever black unemployment rate of 7.6%.