Young Black Investors In South Florida Show Economic Optimism Amid Pandemic
There's a growing Black economic empowerment movement across South Florida amid the pandemic, leading to a high percentage of young people investing in the stock market for the first time. In Palm Beach County, conversations surrounding homeownership and financial investment are taking place at the dinner table — and it’s working.
Last spring, Alainta Alcin, a 31-year-old financial blogger, said seeing her peers throughout the county get laid off forced her to evaluate her long-term financial decisions because she was “ hesitant about purchasing a home” and “hesitant about saving or paying off debt.”
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Alcin, who was already a stock market investor prior to the pandemic, was right to be cautious. The Belle Glade native went from being a new homeowner in West Palm Beach to unemployed. She had to rely on savings and her expanded network to get back on track. And then, like many young Black Americans in the city during the closure of everyday life, she doubled down on investing.
She was “playing the long game.”
“People are now coming into the realization that you cannot save yourself into wealth,” Alcin said. “Your money can work for you if you’re consistently placing it into these investment vehicles. They’ll be able to help you in five years, in 20 years from now.”
Alcin is part of a growing wave of Black financial content creators across the country, sharing knowledge on topics surrounding economic trends, homeownership, stocks, cryptocurrency, and how savings can cover expenses in times of emergency.
“Currently, at this time, I’m housing hacking. I purchased a home, where now I have a family member who is renting out the guest rooms because she wants to eventually become her own homeowner,” Alcin said. “So these are the types of conversations that I’m having with my own group of friends and family. What is wealth if you can’t spread that wealth and knowledge within your own communities?”
A 2019 study by Ohio State University, Duke University and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development examined wealth disparities across racial groups in South Florida. It showed that access to homeownership helps people accumulate intergenerational wealth and transfer it to family.
Alcin says her Black peers are trying to diversify their assets through property ownership and investment.
Dr. Rainford Knight, a professor in the finance department at Florida Atlantic University, says this financial literacy movement is all great news.
“I think it is a positive trend to get more Black Americans involved in the stock market,” Knight said.
A Black Investor Survey survey from Charles Schwab and Ariel Investments found that 30% of Black Americans under 40 participated in the market for the first time in 2020; it also showed that 63% of Black people under that demographic are investing, on par with their white counterparts.
“I think there is a long way to go because all of the data, including the data in this study, clearly shows that, for example, whites save more than Blacks to the tune of $693 per month, relative to $393 per month, which is a significant difference,” Knight said.
Knight says income inequality plays a role in Black household wealth disparities. According to West Palm Beach’s task force on racial & ethnic equality, only 39% of Black residents own their homes. That’s compared to nearly 60% for white residents.
Home prices in the county are up by 25% and people are having a hard time finding affordable rent and homeownership options.
“If you look at the average per capita income versus the price of housing in South Florida, it’s way out of whack,” Knight said.
His FAU students and young Black people under 40 are still reeling from the pandemic.
“The adults that I’ve spoken to, depending on the impact COVID had on their employment situation, most are quite cautious in terms of their approach to finances these days,” Knight said. “They’re being more conservative with their capital — saving a lot more. Trying to pay down debt.”
Knight says students who are graduating are very concerned about getting a job, especially given the pandemic's impact on the job market.
“What I’ve gotten from the students have been varied in terms of those looking for new opportunities and those who’ve had to either slow down their course work or get second jobs to help out their families.”
Knight says one way to keep optimism going around the young Black economic empowerment movement is to continue discussing finances around the dinner table, echoing Alcin about the “importance of financial literacy talk between Black family members and their close peers.”