Black and Latino seniors face double poverty rates

It is well known that Black and Latino children face extraordinarily high poverty rates with more than a third living below the poverty line. 

It seems their grandparents are facing similar straights. A new report by the Berkley Center for Labor Research and Education says, “19.4 percent of Black seniors (age 65 and older) and 19.0 percent of Latino seniors have incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 9.4 percent for the senior population as a whole.” 

African American and Latino poverty rates “are twice as high among these groups compared to the U.S. population as a whole,” writes in an article on the study.

With less retirement benefits and access to health care both groups face increasing insecurity as they age. “Less than half of employed Blacks and less than a third of employed Latinos in full-time jobs are covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan,” argues the study.

The problem extends to all minority groups.

Asian and Native-American, along with Black and Latino seniors, are in “the bottom 25 percent income group.” Forty six percent of Latino seniors are stuck here while Native Americans and Indians make up 38 percent of those living at the bottom. Blacks amount to 31 percent.

Providing good paying jobs is central to overcoming poverty in retirement, particularly for African Americans. Because Black people face higher unemployment, receive less hourly wages, own fewer homes and have less home equity than the population as a whole “improved access to jobs, especially quality jobs with good wages and benefits, alongside a strengthened Social Security system is necessary in order for more Black workers to be able to retire with dignity,” says the report’s author Dr. Nari Rhee.

President Obama’s American Jobs Act has been blocked by Republicans in both the House and Senate. The president’s budget however, contains stimulus measures that would reduce unemployment.

Photo: Honor the elderly, Nansemond tribe. Tony Alter, CC by 2.0. 




Joe Sims
Joe Sims

Joe Sims is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. He is also a senior editor of People's World and loves biking.