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Studies Show African American Women Carry The Heavy Weight Of Family’s Financial Burdens

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Nearly three-quarters of black women worry about not having enough money to pay their bills, according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation, a survey The Washington Post calls “the most extensive exploration of the lives and views of African American women in decades.”

The findings, which have been uncovered in a series called “Black Women In America,” took a close look at the impact of The Great Recession on the lives of African-American women. The verdict: Across the country, black women are bearing a heavier responsibility for family and friends than their white counterparts, even as they struggle to emerge from an economic downturn that has hit them harder, the Post says.

When asked whether they or someone in their household has loaned money to family or friends in the past year, 60 percent of the black women surveyed admitted they had. 49 percent said they had helped an elderly relative.

It’s a trend that experts have been picking apart for years, as economists N.S. Chiteji and Darrick Hamilton did in a 2005 study, which found that black families, more than their white counterparts, struggle to build wealth because of the financial circumstances of their relatives.

“It may be that basic character traits like compassion and generosity combined with the tendency to have less fortunate relatives may actually explain the adverse outcomes experienced by some middle-class families,” Chiteji told The Post.

The problem at present is that this dynamic persists even though the economic boom has given way to a harsher financial reality for black women.

Compounding that harsh reality may also be a lack of job skills, with fewer than half of black, female survey respondents feeling equipped to compete in the current job market. The perspective shifted, however, when those who thought they did not have adequate education or skills to compete were asked how easy or difficult it would be to get them. 74 percent of white women thought it would be “very difficult,” while only 52 percent of black women agreed.

The African-American unemployment rate declined significantly to 13.6 percent from 15.8 percent in December, with some 243,000 jobs added, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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