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Black consumers' buying power on rise

Black consumers' buying power is gradually growing, according to a study released Thursday. But it is not growing fast enough to close the gap in prosperity between blacks and whites.

Still, the authors of the study say that the growing buying power of black consumers is something marketers should sit up and notice.

Nationwide, the purchasing power _ or total personal income after taxes _ of black consumers is expected to reach $406-billion this year and $427-billion next year, according to the study by the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

This would mean that by next year, black consumers will account for 7.8 percent of the nation's total buying power, up from 7.5 percent in 1990.

However, black people accounted for 12.1 percent of the population in 1990 and 12.6 percent in 1995, according to the Bureau of the Census.

"As African-Americans increase in number they gain more consumer power," said Jeff Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at the University of Georgia. "That means black consumers do have a strong economic muscle."

Florida is the sixth largest black consumer market, behind New York, California, Texas, Illinois and Georgia, according to the study. Blacks in Florida are expected to have a buying power of $22.9-billion in 1996.

Humphreys said entrepreneurs starting new businesses, expanding product lines or advertising should consider the growing power of black consumers.

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