African-Americans are starting to close the wealth gap, in large part due to home ownership, according to analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Consumer Federation Association and BET.com. "But there is more that can be done," said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of CFA.
Between 1998 and 2001, the median net wealth of African-American households rose from 9.1% to 22.1% compared to that of the average U.S. household. During that period, average net wealth in African-American households went from $5,919 to $19,010, a $13,091 or 221% increase. Meanwhile, wealth in the average American household went from $64,788 to $86,100, a $21,312 or 32.9% increase.
During those three years, many African-Americans have changed their attitudes about saving, shifting to longer investing time horizons. Also, 42% of black households were saving regularly in 2001, compared with 41% for the entire population.
Even so, large wealth gaps persist, since 41.1% of black households had less than $10,000 in net wealth in 2001, compared with only 22.9% for the total population. Only .08% of black households have $1 million or more in wealth, while 7.0% of total U.S. households have that much.
Emergency savings remains the leading primary motivation for savings among the 3,300 African-Americans registered with Black America Saves, a program available through BET.com. Twenty-six percent are saving for an emergency fund, with 22% aiming at home ownership, 21% at debt repayment, and only 12% saving for retirement.