Michelle Singletary
Michelle Singletary
Columnist

Minority unemployment gap is still widening

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the employment gap between young minorities and young whites continues to grow, reports Edward Wyckoff Williams, a contributing editor of The Root.

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In 2011, 42.6 percent of African Americans and 32.6 percent Hispanics under 25 were underemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, 24.5 percent of young whites were underemployed. (The category of “underemployed” includes the longtime unemployed, people who’ve given up seeking work and part-time workers who want more hours.)

“It seems when it comes to underemployment, income disparity and wealth gaps, race matters more than education levels,” Williams writes. “And for generations X and Y, the nation’s progress toward racial equality over the past 50 years may not translate into dollars and cents.”

He goes on to say: “Employment, income and wealth are interconnected, and as African Americans experience deeply entrenched underemployment -- regardless of the cause -- the result is that a generation of people who hoped for greater prosperity than their parents faces diminished opportunity and higher levels of poverty.”

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Financial Life After College

For last week’s Color of Money Question, I asked: “What one piece of financial advice would you give to a recent college graduate?”

“I would advise that they continue living like a student -- get a roommate(s) to split living expenses and don’t eat expensively -- until their income stabilizes and they have a written financial plan in place for paying off debt and saving,” wrote Te-Mika Warner of Washington.

George Larson of Goose Creek, S.C., wrote: “Credit cards are fine -- a good way to acquire a credit rating, a necessary emergency source of funds. But keep them in a desk drawer, not in your wallet, where you’ll find it too easy to use one after a couple of beers. And never, never, never do cash withdrawals or pay the minimum balance. Aim for twice the minimum if you’re strapped; otherwise, pay in full with each statement.”

“The best piece of advice I can give is for every dollar you spend on a luxury item, put an equal amount in savings,” said Linda Kichline of Phoenix. “So if you download $10 worth of music, put $10 into savings. As you watch your savings grow, you’ll find yourself asking if you really want that music, or if you want to see that movie now or wait until you can see it on TV or borrow it from the library.”

Tiffany Davis of Hollywood, Fla., simply advised: “Save money.”

On my Facebook page, Eileen Bradford wrote: “Charge only what you can pay in full at the end of each month. You will build a sterling credit history, which will lead to favorable rates when you are ready for a major purchase like a house.”

Charlita Joseph, another Facebook friend, said: “Do not fill out credit apps for some cheesy prize. If you do...Do not use the card..u dont hv a job to pay bk what u use!!”

Fail to Plan and You Plan to Fail

The majority of Americans don’t budget, according to results from Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance poll. In the survey, Gallup asked Americans about several types of financial management tools to gauge how they track their finances.

Here are some of the findings:

-- Only 30 percent of Americans prepare a long-term financial plan outlining their savings and investment goals in detail.

-- People with some college education and those making $75,000 a year or more are most likely to prepare a long-term financial plan that outlines their savings and investment goals in detail.

The failure to budget can lead to some pretty foolish things.

Color of Money Question of the Week

For this week’s Color of Money Question: What financial foolishness made you become money smart? Send your responses to colorofmoney@washpost.com, and put “Fail to plan and you plan to fail” in the subject line. You can also join the conversation on Twitter at #financialfoolishness.

A La Carte Pricing

There was an interesting story on why à la carte cable may not save you as much as you think by The Washington Post’s Wonkblog writer Timothy B. Lee.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wants to require cable companies to offer cable channels on an a la carte basis, Lee reports. And customers love the idea. “Some people imagine that if they’re getting 50 channels for $50 per month, they should be able to get individual channels at a dollar or two each,” writes Lee.

But cable companies would probably respond by increasing the price of individual channels, argues Matthew Yglesias on Salon. “Unfortunately, though à la carte sounds like common sense to many people, it’s unlikely to be a good idea,” writes Yglesias. “Everyone hates their cable company, and à la carte is a way to vent that rage in a way that would hurt cable companies’ profits. But it would do so in a way that would leave most consumers worse off, and generate meaningful savings for only a small minority.”

Why you might say? Read Yglesias piece and find out.

Tia Lewis contributed to this report.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071 or e-mail michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com. Follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter @SingletaryM.

 
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