WASHINGTON — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released Pessimism and Hope: A Survey of the Financial Status and Aspirations of Black Americans, a report that examines the financial conditions and ambitions of Black Americans. The research, completed in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago, took a community-centered approach to understanding the current financial situations, debt and credit, and financial aspirations and perceived barriers for Black Americans.
Based on past and ongoing work to expose disparities and promote equity, data shows that the structural barriers faced by Black Americans are destructive to the financial well-being of Black households. The Joint Center and NORC partnered to better understand these issues as Black communities work to achieve a full recovery from the national economic implosion caused by COVID-19. This survey report is the first to be published under the Data for Black America Project, a Joint Center research shop that analyzes the structural inequities facing Black communities and their responsiveness to various economic policy issues.
“This research is especially timely as Black Americans work to realize the full benefits of the current economic recovery,” said Jessica Fulton, vice president of Policy for the Joint Center. “By collecting and analyzing new data on Black Americans specifically, we gain insights into the economic well-being of Black communities — and, therefore, the combined national economy — in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings will serve public and private sector decision makers committed to connecting more Americans to economic opportunities, especially those focused on financial well-being and wealth building.”
Few researchers have focused on understanding the unique financial circumstances, aspirations, and barriers that Black Americans face. This lack of research findings that are specific to the needs of Black Americans hinder the ability of legislators to enact policies that address those specific needs.
“It was critical to both the Joint Center and NORC that the content of the survey was reflective of the voices and concerns of Black Americans, so we took the time to ensure that input from the community was collected and reflected in a rigorous way,” said Vince Welch, associate director, Center on Equity Research at NORC. “This inclusive and equitable approach to the research led to higher quality and more actionable data for policymakers to consider.”
This report was supported by the Citi Foundation. The multi-modal study includes both qualitative and quantitative results from surveys and focus groups of over 1,500 Black people across the United States.
“The Joint Center’s findings offer new insights on the challenges and opportunities facing Black households in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Philip Fitzgerald, senior program officer, Citi Foundation. “Through support for this research, we aim to help inform and catalyze an equitable national recovery by continuing to advance efforts to help close the racial wealth gap in the U.S.”
The major findings from Pessimism and Hope: A Survey of the Financial Status and Aspirations of Black Americans are broken down into three areas — current financial situation, debt and credit, and financial aspirations and perceived barriers.
Some of the major findings include:
Current Financial Situation
Debt and Credit
Financial Aspirations and Perceived Barriers
Click here to read the full report.