Despite reports that the U.S. economy is bouncing back, times remain tough for the average American — especially those among the long-term unemployed. Nearly 1.3 million Americans saw their unemployment insurance terminated last year and over the next year, 4.9 million unemployed Americans will get fewer benefits.
President Obama has called income inequality the defining challenge of our time. At the end of 2012, the top 1 percent owned 50.4 percent of the total wealth in the country, a level that even surpasses that of 1928, when the roaring 20s stock bubble was at its peak. It’s no surprise that many of us continue to tighten our purse strings – a recent Bankrate.com survey showed that 38 percent of Americans even cut back on holiday spending last year.
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In this sluggish economic recovery, the banking industry can serve as a solid job creator (generating 1 million jobs over the next decade) and wealth builder in communities of color. The trend of growing racial economic inequality paired with our country rapidly becoming majority minority posses a great threat to our nation’s economic future. Greater economic inclusion in the leading sectors of the economy is a must and is why the NAACP is committed to working with them to advance greater racial equity.
The NAACP recently released a report, “Opportunity and Diversity Report Card: Consumer Banking Industry”, that highlights key areas where the banking industry can improve to ensure their workforce, leadership and suppliers adequately reflect the demographics of the United States.
The housing crisis of the 21st century devastated communities across the United States and the foreclosure rate skyrocketed to alarming numbers. Americans throughout the country either experienced the economic downtown indirectly or directly, but the African American community fared worse than any other racial group and are facing great challenges in regaining economic security even as the economy and labor market begins to recover. Recent data show: 1) The homeownership rate for African Americans has dropped 6% (twice the rate of any other racial group and the national average); 2) The foreclosure rate higher for African Americans than any other group at 8%[i]; 3) Mortgage lending to African Americans has dropped 60%; and 4) African Americans who are successful at securing a mortgage, often times are still paying more than White and Asian mortgage borrowers.
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