The plight of minority elderly Americans

February 24, 2012

It’s something many people know intuitively but that makes the reality no less harsh when it is framed by concrete figures: the sluggish U.S. economy is squeezing black and Latino seniors even harder than their white counterparts.

The deep recession of 2008-2009 took a heavy toll on the retirement prospects of aging Americans. With so many retirement savings plans linked to employer-based stock market investments, the downturn took a steep toll on the holdings of those who were lucky enough to have savings.

A new study from the University of California, Berkeley’s Labor Center shows the extent of the difficulties facing elderly minorities. Here are some of the low-lights:

 

 

 

Elder poverty rates are twice as high among Blacks and Latinos compared to the U.S. population as a whole: 19.4 percent of Black seniors and 19.0 percent of Latino seniors have incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 9.4 percent for the senior population overall.

Less than a third of employed Latinos and less than half of Black workers are covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan, a critical resource in ensuring adequate retirement income.  As a result, they are disproportionately reliant on the limited income provided by Social Security.

Among retirees age 60 and older, people of color are disproportionately likely to be low income: for 2007-2009, 31.6 percent of Blacks and 46.5 percent of Latinos were in the bottom 25 percent income group. The “other” race group, which includes Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American populations, is also more likely to be low-income (38 percent).

 

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/