Economic crisis hits black middle class particularly hard

The economic crisis may have hurt a lot of Americans but it didn’t necessarily hurt everyone equally. Recent reports suggest the black middle-class was particularly hard hit.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project recently released a report projecting that 68 percent of African-Americans reared in the middle of the wealth ladder will not do as well as the previous generation.

In August, the National Urban League’s State of Black America 2012 report found that nearly all the economic gains that the black middle class made during the last 30 years have been wiped out by the economic downturn…

From 2005 to 2009, the average black household’s wealth fell by more than half, to $5,677, while white household wealth fell 16 percent to $113,149, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2009, 24 percent of black households had no major assets other than a vehicle, compared with 6 percent of their white counterparts.

“For every $20 whites have in wealth, blacks have just $1,” said Paul Taylor, director of Pew’s Social and Demographic Trends project. “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.”

Mary Pattillo, a Northwestern University professor and expert on the black middle class, said this segment of the population is so fragile because it’s disproportionately lower middle class.

This is a reminder that the “American Dream” can be quite fragile. Even if the idea of being middle-class is quite powerful in America, tough economic times which lead to job less or housing issues can erase hard-earned material gains. Since whites had on average higher levels of wealth compared to blacks going into the economic crisis, they were able to better weather the storm.

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