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Adapted from the Cook Center on Social Equity; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A recent CNBC article suggests financial literacy is the "critical link" that could "help bridge America’s racial wealth gap."

Reality check: Increased financial knowledge is likely to help improve the lives of individuals, however even widespread increases in financial literacy would do little to close the racial wealth gap.

  • According to a recent study by McKinsey, Black Americans can expect to earn up to $1 million less than White Americans over their lifetime.
  • White Americans have significantly higher wealth at every income level than Black Americans, as seen in the chart above.

What it means: The focus on financial literacy generally points to disproportionate use of services like payday lending and check cashing stores with fees and interest payments much higher than traditional lending or banking options by Black folks.

  • However, a 2017 report from the St. Louis Fed points out that the idea that Black people have less wealth because they opt to use such services gets the causal correlation backwards.

What they're saying: "[M]eager economic circumstances — not poor decision making or deficient knowledge — constrain choices and leave asset-poor borrowers with little to no other option but to use predatory and abusive alternative financial services."

Similarly, the report finds the notion that Black families are poorer because they have more "unsecured debt" — defined as store bills and credit card debt, loans from a bank or credit union, and “other” types of debt — is untrue.

  • Researchers found no significant difference in the value of Black and white family unsecured debt holdings.
  • The only category in which there is a statistically significant racial difference in unsecured debt is the "other" category that includes student loans and debt for medical care.

Go deeper

Axios-Ipsos poll: Voters of color worry about militias, arrests

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: ±2.6% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Fears that armed militias, police or COVID-19 await them at the polls are disproportionately shaping how Americans of color think about in-person voting, according to an Ipsos poll for Axios.

Why it matters: Participation by voters of color could decide whether President Trump or Joe Biden wins, and whether Democrats take control of both chambers of Congress.

The pandemic made our workweeks longer

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The average American's workweek has gotten 10% longer during the pandemic, according to a new Microsoft study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: These longer hours are a key part of the pandemic-induced crisis of burnout at U.S. firms — and workers are quitting in droves.

Mike Allen, author of AM
28 mins ago - Economy & Business

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky to herald "travel revolution"

Expand chart
Data: TSA. Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky will argue this week that the world is undergoing a "travel revolution," in which some parts of the industry stay shrunk but the sector ultimately comes back "bigger than ever."

Why it matters: Chesky, who faced the abyss when the world shut down last year, foresees a significant shift in how people move around, with more intentional gatherings of family, friends and colleagues — even if routine business travel is never what it once was.