Ethnic Groups Differ on Financial Security, 'American Dream'

By Stephen Miller Oct 8, 2010

More than half of all African-Americans (55 percent) and 57 percent of Asian-Americans say they can achieve financial security on their own, despite cutbacks in employer-sponsored health benefits and pension plans. The percentage drops to 44 percent for both the general public and Hispanics, according to the 2010 MetLife Study of the American Dream.

African-Americans (28 percent) and Hispanics (23 percent) are slightly less likely than Asian-Americans and the general population (both at 34 percent) to say that they have already achieved the American dream. Still, 86 percent of African-Americans who report that they have not yet achieved the dream believe it remains within reach, compared to 70 percent of the public at large. Of the Hispanics who report that they have not yet achieved the dream, 69 percent believe it remains within their reach.

Still Optimistic

African-Americans and Hispanics acknowledge that they have a way to go before they have an adequate personal safety net (defined as a “cash cushion,” with retirement savings as well as auto, health, home and life insurance). Fewer than one in three African-Americans (26 percent) and Hispanics (28 percent) believe that they have already amassed an adequate personal safety net, compared with 31 percent of all Americans and 54 percent of Asian-Americans.

“Like all Americans, the majority of African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics expect that a full economic recovery is still three or more years away,” noted Beth Hirschhorn, senior vice president at MetLife. “Despite this, they are still more optimistic than the overall population about their personal financial situation getting better and their ability to ultimately achieve the American dream.”

Among other findings by the survey, conducted from April 14-21, 2010:

Among all respondents, 68 percent said they would be willing to take a 10 percent pay cut to prevent layoffs at their company. By ethnic group, 77 percent of black employees and Asians would be willing to take the pay cut to prevent layoffs, as would 69 percent of white employees and 56 percent of the Hispanic population.

62 percent of Asians are concerned about possible job loss in the next year due to the economy, compared to 55 percent of the Hispanic population, 53 percent of white employees, and 46 percent of black employees.

Hispanic and Asian individuals were more likely to report taking on more responsibility at work due to staffing cutbacks over the prior two years (61 percent for each group) compared to 53 percent of black employees and 55 percent of white employees.

Stephen Miller is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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