The need to address financial literacy and financial planning - including African-American households in Pittsburgh - is highlighted in a new survey commissioned by The Smiley Group and Nationwide Insurance that shows the recession has impacted how Americans are preparing themselves for the future.
According to the survey, African Americans in Pittsburgh have made more positive changes in the past year than the general population as a result of the economy, including creating a household budget (40 percent to 24 percent), cutting back on eating out and entertainment (67 percent to 55 percent), and delaying non-essential purchases (60 percent to 45 percent).
Hard Times in the Steel City
Eighteen percent of African Americans in Pittsburgh surveyed say they are unemployed, compared to 8 percent of the general population. Nearly half of African Americans in Pittsburgh (47 percent) say they have a household income less than $35,000 a year before taxes, compared to 18 percent of the city's general population.
The majority of African-American (87 percent) and general-population (94 percent) respondents in Pittsburgh remain at least somewhat worried about the economy. Twice as many respondents believe their financial condition has worsened in the past year than those who feel it has improved. Many don't believe it will improve over the next 12 months (47 percent African Americans and 58 percent general population).
Other survey findings of concern in Pittsburgh:
* 38 percent of African Americans are unable to pay all household bills (compared to 19 percent of general population).
* 18 percent of African Americans say their employer has reduced their hours (12 percent of general population).
* 11 percent of African Americans took a loan from their 401(k) (6 percent of general population).
* 35 percent of African Americans are struggling with credit card debt (28 percent of general population).
* 41 percent of African Americans are not confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years, compared to 33 percent of general population.
"The results of the survey underscore that Americans in Pittsburgh - black and white - are struggling to emerge from this downturn on their feet," said Tavis Smiley. "As the world continues to recover from the recession, Black America has the highest unemployment rates, was heavily impacted by the housing crisis and was hit hard by the credit crisis. These sessions are as timely today as they were when we started the tour two years ago."
Work To Be Done
When it comes to financial goals, African Americans say paying monthly expenses (34 percent to 21 percent) and paying rent/mortgage (33 percent to 15 percent) are significantly more important to them than the overall general population responded. However, only 4 percent of African Americans say their most important goal is saving for retirement (compared to 18 percent of the general population).
Eighty nine percent of all Pittsburgh residents who plan to build up an emergency savings fund over the next 12 months and say they will continue to do so for the long term.
The free event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is open to the public and will focus on economic empowerment and financial planning. It will feature a general session with Smiley as the keynote speaker and two informational seminars with breakout sessions for group participation, and provide other information - including financial basics, employment opportunities and more.
"As America continues to see the long-term impact of the Great Recession, our safety nets are slowly diminishing and consumers are becoming more aware that fiscal accountability and responsibility is up to them," said Brian O'Dell, regional vice president for Nationwide's Northeast Region. "Consumers are seeking financial information and tools to help them plan for today and prepare for tomorrow. We view our On Your Side Tour with Tavis Smiley as a way to help people help themselves and make a difference in communities like Pittsburgh."
About the Survey
The online survey was conducted July-August 2010 by the Blackstone Group. A web panel was used to collect data. A total of 325 residents of Pittsburgh were split into two sample groups: general population, ages 18+ (200 people) and African American, ages 18+ (125 people). Significance testing was done at the 90% confidence level. Margin of error is +5.8% for the general population and +7.4% for the African American population.
About Tavis Smiley and The Smiley Group
From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders, as a broadcaster, author, advocate and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. Smiley is currently the host of the late night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS and The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International (PRI). TIME magazine honored Smiley in 2009 as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People."
The Smiley Group, Inc. is a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues. TSG serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet.