Survey Says Black Millennials Are Struggling Financially, But Are Hopeful About The Future

A University of Chicago survey looked at millennials' finances across race lines; black millennials were found to be in bad shape.

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| June 29 2017,

9:37 pm

How’s your wallet looking these days? Is it nice and plump and healthy? Or is it looking a little on the thin side?

A new report from the University of Chicago’s GenForward project shows with hard data that black millennials are suffering far worse financial hardships than their white and Asian counterparts.

Part of the problem, the report asserts, is the high level of unemployment among black millennials.

A full 29 percent of black millennials aren’t working; 59 percent of that population is actively looking for a job. Compare that to the 18 percent of white millennials not working, and the 33 percent of unemployed white millennials looking for a job.

The study’s authors had this takeaway from the numbers: “White millennials are not only employed at higher raters than millennials of color, but those that are not working or who are working part time appear more likely to be doing so of their own choice.” 

Those millennials who are working seem to be working to survive, rather than to achieve the American Dream, the report found.

68 percent of millennials (of all races) told the authors that it is all but impossible to move from poverty to wealth simply by working hard. Furthermore, 43 percent of black respondents said that there was little to no opportunity for getting ahead in America.

As far as daily survival is concerned, the study noted “data suggest that many African Americans in particular appear to be living one accident away from a financial disaster.”


Well, survey results showed the following: 30 percent of black millennials have no way to pay for an unexpected emergency; 50 percent would have “a lot” of difficulty paying an unexpected bill of $1,000; more than 50 percent cannot turn to family for financial aid; 34 percent feel that they could be fired at any time and 49 percent either spend all that they make or more than they make.

There is a bit of good news, however.

Despite being incredibly worried about retirement (with 41 percent of black millennials saying they have no retirement savings, 60 percent saying that they won’t be able to retire when they want to and 73 percent pretty sure that Social Security won’t be around when it’s time for retirement), 74 percent of black millennials are optimistic about their futures.

In fact, 61 percent of black millennials believe that they’ll live better lives than their parents did, and 62 percent think that they’ll eventually be better off financially than their parents are.

Interestingly, white millennials don’t share the optimism of their black counterparts — only 47 percent of white millennials believe they’ll do better than their parents have done.

For many of us, dear Blavity reader, it’s a tough time economically. But know that if you’re having a hard time, you’re not alone. And that — if those 61 percent of hopeful people are right — tomorrow will be a better day for you and I both.