Black and Hispanic Americans Face More Challenges Preparing for Retirement Than White Americans

Lower income and assets drive differences between Black and Hispanic Americans and others. Some attitudinal differences remain present, even looking at those with comparable financial means; Pandemic Impacted Black and Hispanic Workers More than White Workers.

WASHINGTON – June 10, 2021 A new report based on the annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research finds that Black and Hispanic Americans face more challenges preparing for retirement including having been more economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic than White Americans. Of particular importance — Black and Hispanic Americans disproportionately report lower financial resources, and how they feel about retirement and financial security are clearly impacted by having lower income.

The RCS was conducted for its 31st year in 2021 to measure attitudes of American workers and retirees about issues surrounding retirement. The 2021 RCS included an oversample of Black and Hispanic Americans to allow for a closer analysis of the challenges that they face in saving and preparing for retirement. New questions were added to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, evaluate retirement preparation priorities, and understand experiences with the financial system that may affect Black and Hispanic Americans’ retirement preparations. The Issue Brief, “2021 Retirement Confidence Survey: A Closer Look at Black and Hispanic Americans”, carefully examines the responses of Black and Hispanic Americans, considering some key demographic differences, including that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to have lower incomes and assets, which historically correlate with retirement confidence and related RCS metrics.

In fact, confidence in having enough money to live comfortably in retirement increased with income, but the percentage of Americans being very or somewhat confident was not significantly different by race/ethnicity when controlling for income. For example, for those in the upper income group (those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more), 86 percent of White Americans, 84 percent of Black Americans, and 85 percent of Hispanic Americans reported that they were confident about their retirement prospects. Comparatively, in the lower-income group (less than $35,000), 48 percent of White Americans, 50 percent of Black Americans, and 46 percent of Hispanic Americans were very or somewhat confident.

Debt Drags Down Black and Hispanic Americans More Than White Americans

Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely to consider debt to be a major or minor problem for their household than White Americans, regardless of income. In the upper income group, comprised of those earning $75,000 per year and more, 62 percent of Black Americans and 58 percent of Hispanic Americans consider debt a problem, compared with 37 percent of White Americans. As a result, Black and Hispanic workers and retirees are more likely to say debt is impacting their ability to save for retirement, live comfortably in retirement, and save for emergencies across each income group.

Pandemic Hits Black and Hispanic Americans Harder than White Americans

Three in 10 Americans, regardless of income, reported their households experienced a negative income or job change since February 1st, 2020. Black Americans with lower and middle incomes ($35,000 – $74,999 annually) and Hispanic Americans in all three income groups had higher likelihoods of experiencing a negative income or job change than did White Americans, with Hispanic Americans reaching four in ten in the lower- and upper-income groups having a negative change since February 1st, 2020.

Black and Hispanic Americans Want to Work with Financial Advisors with Shared Experiences

In considering or selecting a financial advisor to work with, most Americans are likely to cite an advisor’s expertise with their specific financial goals and specialization in households with a similar amount of money/assets as most important. These criteria were the top two across each income and racial/ethnic group. However, the next level of criteria Americans say are important reveal significant differences across races/ethnicities. “Hispanic and Black Americans are more likely to say that criteria where some connection or commonality between them and the advisor exists is important,” said Craig Copeland, EBRI Senior Research Associate, and co-author of the report. “This includes working with an advisor who has had a similar upbringing or life experiences as them, using an advisor who is affiliated with their employer in some way, accessing an advisor that has a similar racial/ethnic background to them, and collaborating with an advisor who is the same gender as them. Thus, increasing the efforts of financial service companies to develop a candidate pipeline to aid in hiring more Black and Hispanic workers in the financial services industry could strengthen the bond between advisors and clients.”

Many are Putting Friends and Family First

Hispanic Americans, regardless of income, were more likely to agree that it is more important to help friends and family now than to save for their own retirement. In the upper income group, nearly one-half of Hispanic Americans agreed with this statement, compared with only one-third of White Americans. Upper income Black Americans were also more likely to agree that family is more important. In addition, Hispanic Americans in each income group and Black Americans in the lower- and upper-income groups were more likely to indicate that saving for a child’s education or paying off a child’s education is reducing how much they can save for retirement than White Americans were to agree with the statement.

“Many Americans, but perhaps especially Black and Hispanic Americans, would benefit from increased assistance in balancing competing financial priorities, such as debt reduction, supporting family, and their own long-term savings,” said Lisa Greenwald, CEO of Greenwald Research and co-author of the report.

Additional Findings:

  • Most Black and Hispanic workers are satisfied with workplace plans; however, Black and Hispanic workers were more likely to say that one-on-one, personalized education would be a valuable improvement to them than White workers.
  • Many Americans are retiring earlier than expected, but the reasons differ across ethnicities: White retirees cited they could afford to retire earlier than planned most often, whereas Black and Hispanic retirees said they had a health problem or disability most often.
  • Workers universally overestimate the likelihood of working for pay in retirement: the disconnect between workers’ expectations about working for pay in retirement was consistent across all races/ethnicities.

“2021 Retirement Confidence Survey: A Closer Look at Black and Hispanic Americans” is available at

The survey was underwritten by AARP, Aon, Ariel Investments, Ayco, Bank of America, BlackRock, Capital Group, Columbia Threadneedle, Empower Retirement, Fidelity Investments, FINRA Foundation, J.P. Morgan, LGIMA (Legal & General Investment Management America), Mercer, Mutual of America, Nationwide Financial, New York Life, PIMCO, Principal Financial Group, Prudential, PGIM, Retirement Clearinghouse, T. Rowe Price, Segal, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Wells Fargo.

About the Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS):

The 2021 survey of 3,017 Americans was conducted online January 5 through January 25, 2021. All respondents were age 25 or older. The survey included 1,507 workers and 1,510 retirees – this year included an oversample of Black Americans (n=741 in total) and Hispanic Americans (n=731 in total).

Data were weighted by age, sex, education, household income and race. Unweighted sample sizes are noted on charts to provide information for margin of error estimates. The margin of error would be about ± 2.5 percentage points for both workers and retirees in a similarly-sized random sample and about ± 3.6 percentage points for Black or Hispanic respondents.

About EBRI:

The Employee Benefit Research Institute is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute based in Washington, DC, that focuses on health, savings, retirement, and economic security issues. EBRI conducts objective research and education to inform plan design and public policy, does not lobby and does not take policy positions. The work of EBRI is made possible by funding from its members and sponsors, which include a broad range of public, private, for-profit and nonprofit organizations. For more information go to

About Greenwald Research:

Greenwald Research is a leading, independent research firm that has been specializing in retirement, employee benefits, and health care research for over 35 years. For more information, go to