The recession is hitting older working men especially hard, in part because their jobs tend to be in sectors like finance and construction, and are fast disappearing. That means families dependent on one man’s earnings face especially hard times. Their plans for retirement are out the window as 401ks crash; mortgages and credit card bills go unpaid; and health insurance get dropped before they are eligible for Medicare.
White men over 55 still experience unemployment at lower rates than their minority counterparts, but the change in their unemployment rate is greater–which means there are a lot of old white guys out there who’ve recently lost their jobs.
In a new survey USA Today reports:
Jobless rates for men and women older than 55 are at their highest level since the Great Depression, government data show. White men over 55 had a record 6.5% unemployment rate in the second quarter, far above the previous post-Depression high of 5.4% in 1983. The jobless rate for older black men was higher — 10.5% — but more than a percentage point below its 1983 peak.The most remarkable change is in the unemployment rate for black women: 12.2%, far below the historic peak of 20% in 1983. Hispanic unemployment is about 6 percentage points below historic highs, too.
In other words, this recession has shrunk the racial gap in unemployment, largely because white men are doing so much worse than usual.
Since older white man are also the demographic most likely to have voted for George W. Bush, I guess you could say there’s some poetic justice to all this. But being a member of the group myself, I know that we don’t all deserve this. In fact, no one deserves the kind of hopelessness that must come with being 60, jobless, pensionless, and uninsured, with no prospect for recovery any time in the near future.