Extended Recession Wipes Out Gains Made by Black Middle Class

Monday, 08 Oct 2012 11:49 AM

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The economic downturn and long recession have hit the black middle class hard, wiping out gains made in the last 30 years, with plummets in wealth and high rates of foreclosures, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It’s projected that 68 percent of middle–class blacks will not do as well as the previous generation, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project, and the National Urban League reported that most economic gains that the black middle class made during the last 30 years have been wiped out by the economic downturn, according to the Tribune.

"This is a very dire situation," Valerie Rawlston Wilson, an economist with the National Urban League Policy Institute, told the Tribune.

"Even for blacks who have college degrees, we've seen a doubling of their unemployment (rate) between 2007 and 2010."

The nation’s unemployment rate is 7.8 percent. For blacks, it’s 13.4 percent. The average black household's wealth fell by more than half from 2005-2009 while white household wealth fell 16 percent to $113,149, according to the Tribune.

"For every $20 whites have in wealth, blacks have just $1," Paul Taylor, director of Pew's Social and Demographic Trends project, told the Tribune. "And in many cases, households get a boost because they inherit wealth from parents and grandparents. Blacks for most of history haven't been able to accumulate that type of wealth."

From 2009 to 2012, median household income for blacks has declined by
11.1 percent, compared to the decline for whites of 5.2 percent and for Hispanics of 4.1 percent.

"A generation of wealth and assets are evaporating, and the presidential candidates aren't making a peep about it,"

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, 40, a doctoral candidate in African-American studies at Northwestern, told the Tribune. "We're talking about historic changes in manufacturing, and these are systemic changes in the economy and in the midst of this, people are being left behind."


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