White people's net worth outgrew Black Americans' by 30 percentage points in the pandemic, New York Fed study finds
2024-02-12 — fortune.com
While government support such as increased unemployment benefits and stimulus checks helped stave off a COVID-induced recession, financial asset prices rose so significantly with the reopening of the economy through 2021 that racial wealth disparities increased. And while those market-linked assets did fall in 2022 when the Federal Reserve rapidly increased interest rates, "those declines did not fully offset the earlier rises," according to the New York Fed.
More than 50% of Black financial wealth is invested in pensions, the New York Fed found. Less than 20% of Black wealth is stored in private businesses, corporate equities, and mutual funds. In contrast, less than 30% of white financial wealth is invested in pensions, with about 50% invested in businesses, equities, and mutual funds.
"Black workers are still more likely to be unionized, which may play a part in the pension story," said Jones. "But how folks are exposed to the ability to invest in the stock market -- whether or not it's something they grow up doing -- we know that's different for white families than for people of color." Black family members are less likely to get an inheritance, she said.
During the pandemic, the real value of Black-held financial assets dropped in 2022 to below its 2019 level and continued to decline steadily, while the real value of Hispanic-held financial assets dipped below its 2019 level in 2022 and stagnated. Neither group's real financial assets have recovered to their 2019 values.
Owning a business is another component of financial wealth, and separate data show Black-owned businesses had a tougher time during the pandemic.
While less than 10% of all U.S. business owners are Black, Black-owned businesses were also more concentrated in industries hardest hit when COVID first spread, according to Economic Policy Institute analysis of government data. In April of 2020, more than 40% of Black business owners reported they were not working, compared with only 17% of white business owners.
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