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Racial Wealth Divide

Retirement and the Racial Wealth Gap

Research & Commentary
January 24, 2017

by Christopher Pitt Marc Bayard

African-Americans have saved significantly less for retirement than whites, a disparity that reflects the systemic disadvantages many black wage earners face.

Welcome to 2017! President Obama has exited the stage, and a Trump presidency is now reality. If you’re still not shocked, remember this: Right now, more than half of all Black families in the United States today have no retirement wealth at all, meaning they will likely be entirely dependent on Social Security, which currently pays an average benefit of just $1,239 per month.

Where is all the money and who does have all the wealth?

According to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, the top 100 U.S. corporate CEOs have amassed $4.7 billion in their company retirement funds. You’d have to add up the retirement savings of nearly 60 percent of the poorest African-American families before you hit $4.7 billion. We’re talking about 100 CEOs having as much saved for retirement as 11 million Black families.

This grim picture will grow even grimmer if Republicans manage to push through their plan to overhaul Social Security. Introduced in December, the plan would cut benefits for all but the lowest earners by 17 percent to 43 percent by the year 2080, and hike the retirement age to 69 by 2030.

Read the full commentary at EBONY.

Marc Bayard directs the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies. Christopher Pitt is an IPS Next Leader Fellow.

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