Report: Golden years of blacks, Latinos more likely to be tarnished by poverty
Nearly a fifth of black and Latino elders are living in poverty, says a University of California, Berkeley researcher.
February 23rd, 2012
12:47 PM ET

Report: Golden years of blacks, Latinos more likely to be tarnished by poverty

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – Nonwhite older Americans are more likely to suffer from poverty in retirement, according to a study released by the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education.

"Black and Latino Retirement (In)Security," released Tuesday, found that the poverty rate for blacks (19.4%) and Latinos (19%) over 65 is more than twice that of the national average and nearly triple that of whites.

The report analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census' American Community Survey.

Another of the report’s findings offers a clue to why such a disparity exists – nonwhites are less likely to work for an employer who offers a retirement plan, and are also less likely to contribute to it when it is offered.

Report author Nari Rhee said the lower participation rates in retirement plans is not because black and Latino employees are less willing to contribute. Some are not eligible for employee-offered plans because they work part time, are temporary workers, or haven’t been working at the company long enough to join the plan. And in many cases, the employee wages don’t leave much left over once basic expenses such as rent, food and utilities are met.

"You have to make it easy for people to save," said Rhee. "It's not just laziness, people get taken up with what they need to get by on a daily basis.  A lot of people never see that money (from a paycheck) hit their bank account."

Lack of a pension or 401(k) plan means that minority senior citizens are disproportionately dependent upon income from Social Security benefits, which averaged $1,177 monthly as of early 2011.  Each person's benefits are calculated based upon how much they earned in their 35 highest-earning years of employment, so workers in low-wage jobs get less than someone in a higher-paying job. Because black and Latino workers are more likely to work in jobs that pay less, they receive an average of 26% less in annual benefits than whites.

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Filed under: Age • Black in America • Census • Economy • How we live • Latino in America
soundoff (9 Responses)


    February 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stopcomplaining

    I guess not taking advantage of more than available education, affirmative action, special programs run by the evil whites to help minorities....rampant drop out rates, stratospheric illigitimate birth rates beginning in early teens, drug use, crime, blame everyone but yourselves.

    February 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ray

    Steve just displayed a perfect example of the white man's ignorance. Thank you Steve for your edification!

    February 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • skpfrmdc

      excuse him. he truly believes the playing field has always been even. you can't blame him he's never known it to be anything different.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • lcsstudent

        I agree the white privileged need to stop denying that there is a problem and be the ones to help stop the problems. You cant blame a person for their naivety and blaming the victim.

        February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • whatever

      Icsstudent....I grew up on a dairy farm and had no money what so ever. My dad quit school in 10th grade and my mom is from Germany and in the 50s and 60s there education system was horrible. My dad used to keep me and my brother home from school to help on the farm so needless to say when I graduated high school I had a D grade average (1.82 GPA). I decided to make a life for myself though and got a job and moved in with a friend. I saved money and went to school to become an orderly. After getting that job that paid decent money I continued my education and got a Bachelors degree in Business. I am 44 years old and just got that degree. I did it with no help at all as I am white and didn't qualify for any affirmative action programs. I could have easily got a job at Burger King and bought a trailer home and blamed my parents for not caring about my education but I didn't. As long as people keep blaming others for their situation, something in many cases that they can change, the change will not happen. One great example....Oprah Winfrey. She had an absolutely horrible child hood and decided to change her situation. I can bet that 95% of people know who she is and she will never have to depend on anyone ever again. She is also doing something to help other underpriveleged people. Wow...if only we had other successful black people do that. No one can deny there are many rich WHITE people who help others but of course that is just forgotten as white people are all evil aren't they.

      February 24, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    Sounds like Blacks and Latinos need to work harder and/or save more prior to retirement. Maybe instead of buying spinners and a booming system for your car you invest it? Or instead of spending 300 bucks on shoes you save it? But no its racism why they live the way they do. Funny Asains and Indians arnt haveing a problem here.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steven

    Racism !!! The white elderly are doing better ! We must correct this .... tax old whites more.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James70094

    "also less likely to contribute to it when it is offered", this is what needs to change. More and more, people are reliant on social security as their only means of retirement income. Recently, Federal workers were under attack for having "extravegant" benefits. These same benefits were the standard not too long ago. More and more, companies reduce benefits and employees don't stand up for themselves. When the 401k first came out, companies started eliminating pensions to save money. At the same time, CEO and other executive pay started to sky rocket. Many companies only offer these beneifts to the executives and senior management now. The Federal government is a huge employer of non-whites, especially blacks. One of the last employers offering decent benefits. And now, Congress is starting to strip those away. Look at the bill signed by Obama wednesday, it has provisions that reduce retirement benefits, making more people more reliant on social security. I know it's popular to say we can't afford it. The truth is, you are going to pay for it one way or another, sooner or later. How Congress can suspend payments to the pension fund, borroe from the same pension fund and then claim it's not sustainable because it has a loss. It only had a loss because Congress took the money and spent it elsewhere. while you are enjoying the temporary reduction in SS tax of maybe $80 a month, remember that SS will have less money to pay you in the future.

    February 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |