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 15th Annual Edition
'Buying Power of Black America' report breaks down billions in expenditures

Black consumers are responding to tighter economic condition by focusing more of their spending on items and services that improve their homes and lifestyle. That's one of the trends revealed in the 15th annual report, "The Buying Power of Black America," published by Target Market News. The report analyzes spending for black households in 2008 and finds that African-Americans...
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 Black Stats  
Frequently requested data on African American consumers

Black Buying Power:
 $803 Billion (2008)

Black U.S. Population:
 41.1 million

Top Five Black Cities
 - New York
 - Chicago
 - Detroit
 - Philadelphia
 - Houston

Top Five Black Metros:
 - New York-New Jersey
 - Washington-Baltimore
 - Chicago-Gary
 - Los Angeles
 - Philadelphia

Top Five Expenditures:
 - Housing $166.3 bil.
 - Food $65.3 bil.
 - Cars/Trucks $31.5 bil.
 - Clothing $26.9 bil.
 - Health Care $23.9 bil.

Click here for more stats from "The Buying Power of Black America."
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U.S. Census 
Bureau Data

Click here to go to African-American Census Bureau data

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Provision by Rep. Maxine Waters in financial reform law creates inclusion for minorities

From Tribune News Service
(August 16, 2010) Tucked into the Wall Street reform measure was a little-noticed provision pushing for more diversity in the disproportionately white and male world of finance, and its potentially far-reaching implications have set off alarm bells among conservatives and some in the financial sector.

The provision pushes all federally regulated financial firms that do business with the government and their subcontractors to hire more women and minorities and also calls upon federal agencies to diversify their own ranks.

Michael Yaki, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, hailed it as the most significant step the federal government has taken to create economic opportunities for women and minorities since President Richard Nixon was in office.

"This is a wake-up call for Wall Street: women, black Americans, Asian-Americans, Latino-Americans, they all pay for your bailouts," Yaki said. "Firms must take steps to be more reflective of America."

The legislation calls for the creation of an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the federal regulatory agencies. The directors of each of the at least 20 offices will establish standards to ensure the "fair inclusion and utilization" of minorities and women throughout the agency's work.

The directors will evaluate the diversity policies and practices of entities regulated by the agencies. If a company that does business with the government does not show that it has made a "good faith effort" to diversify its work force, the director of the office may recommend that the contract be terminated. The office will also annually report the percentage of contracts the agency awarded to businesses owned by women and minorities to Congress.

Some of the largest banks on Wall Street have formal relationships with the government for asset management, meaning they could fall under the legislation's broad definition of contractors, said James Ballentine, senior vice president in government relations for the American Bankers Association.

"This is one of the provisions that has a large question mark," he said. "We are just uncertain as to how the regulators will interpret this provision -- whether they see it as a mandate or simply an effort to be made by the regulatory agencies and the banks."

In 2008, white males held 64 percent of senior positions in the financial services industry, according to a recent study conducted by the Government Accountability Office. The industry's diversity at the management level did not change significantly from 1993 to 2008.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. (pictured), who wrote the provision, said Friday it would deal with the "historic lack of access that minority and women individuals and institutions have had in hiring, decision-making, contracting and procurement opportunities," in the financial services sector.

Some conservatives and employment experts fear the provision will deal a blow to American businesses at a time when they are vulnerable.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, who served as chief economist at the Labor Department under President George W. Bush and is now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the legislation represents a sharp pivot in employment law that should have come under greater scrutiny.

"This will destroy the financial industry," she said. "If the CEOs of American financial institutions have to be worried about the diversity regulations whereas those in other countries are worrying about their profits, we are going to fall behind."

The provision applies to financial institutions, investment and mortgage banking firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants, asset management firms and providers of legal services -- easily thousands of companies.

Even though the legislation states that lending will not be affected, some conservatives in Congress remain concerned that the provision will politicize the allocation of credit, a Republican House aide said. Republican lawmakers and businesses alike were surprised that the provision remained intact after the prolonged negotiation process, the aide noted.

One industry representative who declined to speak publicly due to the topic's sensitive nature said he worries it will be complicated for companies that are regulated by multiple agencies -- each with their own standards -- to comply. He is also concerned the vague language in the legislation could permit a system of de facto quotas for hiring and lending.

Though the legislation never mentions quotas, Todd Gaziano, one of four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who signed a letter objecting to the section, said it all but requires the practice of hiring by the numbers. Without a work force that reflects population statistics, it could be difficult for firms to convince agencies that they have done enough to hire minorities and women, he said.

"It's pernicious, it's unconstitutional and it's counterproductive to ending discrimination because it requires discrimination," he said. "If you are hiring somebody because of his race, you are not hiring somebody else from a different race."

Champions of the legislation, however, say they merely hope to see financial firms improve from the relatively low benchmark they have set.

The regulations will likely be flexible, Yaki said, with firms based in particularly diverse parts of the country held to a higher standard.

"There can't be a cookie-cutter approach to this. That just wouldn't make sense," he said.


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