Sep 06, 2012 12:01 PM GMT
The nation’s first African-American president hasn’t done much for African-Americans.
Richard Brown, 40, a U.S. Army veteran and college graduate, lost his job as a community organizer in Durham, North Carolina, amid the 2008 credit crunch. Unemployed for seven months, he worked temporarily at a grocery store for one-third his previous salary before landing a position in 2010 at another nonprofit, helping establish minority-owned businesses.
The employment roller coaster punched a hole in his bank balance and left his net worth “sitting at zero,” says the married father of two. “We’re easily three years behind where we would have been,” Brown says.
So are millions of other African-Americans whose tenuous hold on prosperity has slipped since President Barack Obama reached the White House. The recession and anemic recovery, while painful for most Americans, have been especially punishing for blacks, stripping jobs, homes and wealth from people who have historically lagged.
“These groups have been very, very hard hit, not only in the recession, but in the recovery that followed,” says economist Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution. “Things have been very grim.”
Today’s 14.1 percent black unemployment rate is almost twice the 7.4 percent white rate, and the racial gap -- after narrowing from 2005 to 2009 -- has widened since the recession’s June 2009 end. At Obama’s inauguration, 7.1 percent of whites were jobless compared with 12.7 percent of blacks.