The plight of minority elderly Americans
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).