From Uptown – There was quite a bit of commotion and mainstream shock when numbers dropped this week regarding the “lopsided wealth ratios” found between whites and minorities in a recent Pew Research study, but tell us something folks of color didn’t know already. It simply took a mainstream heavyweight like Pew to get it noticed. The Association of Black Foundation Executives was already on that in 2009, commissioning a study which found a quarter of the black middle class had evaporated during the Great Recession (which only nervous economists and raw street observers will admit is really a Depression).
Nothing new in the fact that African Americans households lost 53% of median wealth between 2005 and 2009; no surprise that Latino households lost 66% of it and really, much ado about nothing when hearing Asians lost more than blacks: 54%. That could be a reflection of how small Asian businesses, particularly in heavily black urban centers, rely on a constant stream of black consumers of everything from hair products to chips and carbonated drinks. And, judging from the rather low, under-the-national-average unemployment rate for whites, no surprise that white median wealth dropped by 16%.
It’s one reason why unemployment and the jobs crisis in America sit on a backburner somewhere behind the debt ceiling and budget debate. You would think jobs would be the priority issue in Congress at the moment considering more jobs means more income = more tax receipts and revenue for a government needing to balance its books. But, since only 7.4% of whites are officially feeling the heat of discontinuance notices and unpaid mortgages or rent, it’s not that bad.
It is for blacks who face an official jobless rate of 16.2% (a figure that – strangely enough in this age of first black President – keeps rising every month the Labor Department issues a report on it). Unofficially, economists say it’s worse, with rates ranging from 30%-50% unemployment for black men in most major cities; 30%-40% for black women. It’s about to get a lot worse as local and state governments continue cutting payrolls to balance budgets: nearly a quarter of public sector employees are black.