Black Americans have generally steered clear of the stock market and consequently many with solid incomes have lagged far behind whites in accumulating wealth. But the tables are starting to turn. A national study by Chicago-based Ariel Investments. Currently, 67 percent of African-Americans with incomes of at least $50,000 have money invested in stocks or stock mutual funds. In 2010, that percentage was about 60 and in 1998, it was 57 percent.
During the last few years, employers have been enrolling their employees automatically in 401(k) plans without seeking permission first. As a result, employees have ended up with stock and bond investments that have been growing during the bull market that began in 2009.
In 1998, 81 percent of whites were investing in the stock market. Now 86 percent of whites with incomes of at least $50,000 have stock or stock fund investments — the highest level Ariel has ever found.
Black Americans continue to be more leery of the stock market than whites. When Ariel asked people who weren’t investing in the stock market to cite a reason, 56 percent of blacks and 53 percent of whites said it was too risky. Having enough money to invest was secondary, with only 44 percent of blacks saying that was the reason for not investing.
Black Americans are more likely than whites to say it’s important to get the timing right for stock market investing, although financial advisers say the key is to combine stocks and bonds and invest a little at a time continually. They say guessing when stocks will climb or fall is impossible even for the best and brightest pros.
More than half of black investors said workplace plans were the most important motivator for becoming an investor.
Meanwhile, after going through the financial trauma of the last few years, both blacks and whites have greatly changed expectations about when they will retire, though blacks are more optimistic. In 2003, 42 percent of blacks and 28 percent of whites thought they’d retire before age 60. Now, only 17 percent of blacks and 10 percent of whites think they will.
Do you own stock? What are your thoughts on the stock market and investing as a whole?