In honor of Juneteenth, we revisit the important role pensions play in establishing financial equity for Black Americans. This piece was written by NPPC’s Executive Director, Bridget Early, and was originally posted on June 10, 2020.

Our nation is engaged in a dialogue on what racial justice and equality mean.

For those who are looking for more information as to how this issue is relevant to ensuring our public employees receive a secure and dignified retirement, we have compiled the following resources to help better understand how racial inequality impacts all aspects of a person’s life:

  1. The Cost of Being Black: 33 Facts About the Wealth Gap and Economic Justice by Brad Tuttle. In his article for Money, Tuttle curates several sources to note how the current economic system does not serve black Americans the same as white Americans. In regards to retirement, Tuttle writes, “There’s a racial retirement savings gap: 62% of working-age black households do not have any assets in a retirement account, versus 37% of white households with no retirement accounts, per the National Institute on Retirement Security. What’s more, people of color nearing retirement age have an average savings of $30,000, versus $120,000 for white households.”
  2. Pensions Help Black Women Achieve a Secure Retirement – According to reports released by the Economic Policy Institute and the National Institute on Retirement Security, there is a relatively small gap between how much a retired white public employee received from a pension versus a retired black public employee. This is particularly helpful for black women – a career in public service that provides a defined benefit pension is less likely to fall into poverty than those without an employer-provided retirement plan.
  3. Race Impacts Earnings, Wealth and Retirement Security – In 2019, the Center for Retirement Research issued a brief outlining the impact of race on earnings, wealth, and retirement. The brief highlighted that white Americans earned significantly more than either black or Hispanic Americans. It also shows that white Americans see a lower risk of falling into a lower standard of living when they retire at 48 percent, versus 54 percent for black households and 61 percent for Hispanic households.

The National Public Pension Coalition stands with our brothers and sisters who are raising awareness of the pervasive inequality that exists in American society. We hope that we are in a moment where communities and policymakers will make changes that bring true equality to all Americans.