Economic Insecurity Rises: 80 Percent Of All American Adults Face Unemployment

July 29, 2013  |  

It’s a disheartening statistic: four out of five U.S. adults will be struggling with joblessness, near-poverty or relying on welfare during some period in their life, according to a new survey.

Survey data, which was exclusive to the Associated Press, found that the increasingly globalized U.S. economy is experiencing a widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs are spurring on this trend.

More and more President Barack Obama is saying his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

“As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused – on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race,” reports the Huffington Post.

Whites are becoming concerned as well, so much so that pessimism among whites about their families’ economic futures has increased to the highest level since at least 1987.  The most recent AP-GfK poll found that 63 percent of whites said the economy was “poor.” Government data also shows economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60. This is according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press. And when measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity jumps to 79 percent.

“Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white,” reports HuffPo.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-to-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number – 4 in 10 adults – falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

“The risks of poverty has increased in recent decades, especially among people ages 35-55.  By race, however, nonwhites continue to have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty,” reports HuffPo.

Looking ahead, by 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, nearly 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience some economic insecurity.

“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them,’ it’s an issue of ‘us,'” Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers, told HuffPo. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”

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