The Huffington Post
By: Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson
May 21, 2013
Not much has changed since Prudential Financial last conducted its "African American Financial Experience" survey in 2011. According to the latest results of the biennial study, released Tuesday, African Americans still face competing priorities when it comes to building a legacy of wealth. At the top of the list: paying off debt, saving for retirement and having enough life insurance to protect loved ones.
This year's results are based on a March 2013 poll of 1,153 Americans who identify as African American or Black and 471 general population Americans, Prudential notes.
But while the findings compound a recent report on the role the Great Recession has played in perpetuating the wealth gap between racial groups, African Americans remain confident about their financial future, the report says, with half of African Americans saying they are doing better now financially than they were 12 months ago, a sentiment shared by only one-third of the general population.
The report's silver lining -- confidence and optimism -- stands in stark contrast to debt, however, which 94 percent of African Americans said they have, compared with the general population at 82 percent. In addition, one in four African-Americans say they have felt anxiety or depression as a result of that debt.
Earlier this month, U.S. News & World Report released the results of two studies showing that while the estimated $1 trillion in student loan debt affects individuals from all walks of life, two groups experience some of the greatest repercussions of student debt -- women and minorities.
According to the report, 27 percent of black bachelor's degree holders had more than $30,500 in loans, compared with 16 percent of white bachelor's degree holders. Those African Americans also have higher rates of unemployment, which directly impacts their repayment power.
Prudential's findings coincide. College-educated African-Americans are twice as likely to have student loan debt, compared with all college-educated Americans, the survey states, adding that while the student debt is a sign of economic progress, it also hampers the ability to invest or save for retirement.
Among Prudential's guidance on closing the gap between confidence and long-term financial security is one made at the conclusion of its 2011 report -- to help financial institutions better meet African Americans' needs. Others say decreasing unemployment, closing the wage gap and protecting grants for low-income college students is the key.