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Human Interest -We are a 401(k) provider for small and medium-sized businesses. Our mission is to ensure that people in all lines of work have access to retirement benefits.

The Debt We Owe: How Employers Can Help Close the Racial Retirement Wealth Gap

What inequality looks like for retirement

 In just over two decades, Black and Hispanic Americans will make up nearly 40% of the U.S. population. But while the nation’s demography will soon reach a tipping point, its retirement wealth will not.

If the current trends in retirement wealth accumulation continue – including the insolvency of Social Security – Black and Hispanic workers will never be able to save sufficiently for retirement.

Figure 1. Average retirement wealth* per family by race and ethnicity

*Including funds held in IRAs, 401(k)s, and 403(b)s.

Black and Hispanic workers face fundamental challenges that prevent them from accumulating retirement wealth including: unequal pay, disparities in financial education, lack of access to retirement savings plans, and low contribution rates when access is provided. As a result, the gap between retirement wealth between Black and Hispanic workers and their white counterparts is staggering.

Figure 2. The racial retirement wealth gap: For every $1 of retirement wealth held by Black and Hispanic workers, white workers have $7.30 and $5.10, respectively 

In order to ensure that all people in all lines of work can retire comfortably, something has to change. 

Rebuilding Today, for Tomorrow

With all of the discussion today surrounding race, people across the country are examining their actions and biases—it’s time for the finance industry to do the same.

Few of our peers have taken a strong stand or even acknowledged systemic disparities in financial outcomes by race. Human Interest believes that the best way for our company to address racial injustice is to build upon this mission and apply our unique lens to better understand how racial inequality plays out in retirement wealth. 

This report, “The Debt We Owe: How Employers Can Help Close the Racial Retirement Wealth Gap,” is a compilation of recent research detailing the extent and severity of the racial retirement wealth gap faced by Black and Hispanic workers. 

This report focuses on these two groups – and not other races and ethnicities – because Black and Hispanic workers are the most vulnerable to an uncertain financial future. And many work for the small businesses that Human Interest serves. 

 This report covers:

  • The severity of the racial retirement wealth gap, and how it is distinct from the racial wealth gap 
  • The role that Social Security plays in mitigating the gap
  • The challenges that Black and Hispanic workers face in accumulating retirement savings
  • Five things employers can do today to help close the gap 

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