WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – The economic slowdown, rising debt, gas and food prices, loss of jobs, and mounting foreclosures have hurt families across the board, but according to a new report Black and Latino families are “hit first and hit worst.”
“Since 2000 the economy has slowed its growth,” Tim Westrich, a research associate at the Center for American Progress told The Final Call. “Wages for minorities have gone down, health care rates have gone up and minorities have a higher percentage of high cost mortgages.
“This is an historic trend that needs a more robust public policy response to address the needs and concerns like unemployment insurance.”
The 1990s were fruitful for both Blacks and Latinos, both groups made gains across several economic indicators and narrowed the economic gap with Whites.
These gains have either slowed or been reversed since 2000.
According to the report by the Center for American Progress, median family income for Latinos declined by an average of 0.5 percent per year from 2000 to 2006, after rising an average of 1.5 percent per year in the 1990s.
From 1990 to 2000, Hispanic median income rose from $33,394 to $38,834 (in 2006 dollars), an annualized average growth rate of 1.5 percent. Yet from 2000 to 2006, their median income decreased from $38,834 to $37,781.
White median income also decreased during this time, but only by an annualized average rate of 0.3 percent.
Blacks median income declined by an average of 1.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2006, after having risen by an average of 2.2 percent per year in the 1990s. From 1990 to 2000, Blacks median income rose dramatically from $27,929 to $34,735 (in 2006 dollars).
But this number declined from $34,735 in 2000 to $32,132 in 2006.
In 2006, White median income was $52,423, which is 1.6 times greater than Black median income in that year.
“Incomes have been declining since 2000. Blacks and Latinos have had a hard time recovering from the 2001 recession,” said Roderick Harrison, founding director of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ DataBank, an online clearinghouse of data on Blacks and other ethnic populations.
“With jobs lost such as those in construction, it’s very likely to hit Blacks and Latinos more heavily than others. Families and neighborhoods are suffering with the increase in foreclosures. Employment problems will cause more mortgage problems as cutbacks occur.”
According to the report, Hispanics and Blacks continued to lag behind in health insurance coverage. The percentage of Hispanics without health insurance increased by an average of 0.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2006, after holding steady during the 1990s. Only 10.8 percent of Whites were not covered in 2006.
The percent of Blacks not covered by health insurance increased by an average of 0.3 percent per year from 2000 to 2006, after having decreased significantly in the 1990s.
Less than one-third of Hispanics participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2006, compared to over half of Whites. Only 43.8 percent of Blacks participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2006, compared to 55.0 percent of whites.
When it came to percentages of Blacks and Whites participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, 55 percent of Whites participating in 2006, or roughly 20 percent more than the percentage of Blacks participating.
“Blacks and Latinos have never really recovered from the 2001 recession. These people have been in recession since the 21st century. These economic problems will knock people further into the hole before conditions change,” Mr. Harrison told The Final Call.