Low Wealth and Economic Insecurity among Middle-Class Blacks in Boston Low Wealth and Economic Insecurity among Middle-Class Blacks in Boston

By Regine O Jackson, Darrick Hamilton, and William A. Darity Jr.

In addition to inequality and lack of mobility, economic vulnerability is a growing public policy concern. In this issue brief, we offer insights from interviews with both African American and Caribbean-ancestry blacks that disturb any presumption that those who have made it to the middle class have achieved economic stability. We argue that typical indicators of middle-class status (earning above-average income, having a college degree, owning a home, and/or having a professional occupation) underestimate the scope of financial insecurity in communities of color. The fragility of the black middle-class in Boston comes across clearly through our respondents' descriptions of their asset holdings and experiences around job loss, bankruptcy, unexpected expenses, and changes in family structure—all measures of financial well-being.