Black and Latino seniors in the U.S. are facing a tougher time in retirement: Elder poverty rates are twice as high among these groups compared to the U.S. population as a whole, according to a new study by the University of California, Berkeley.
Some 19.4 percent of black and 19.0 percent of Latino seniors have incomes below the federal poverty line, compared to 9.4 percent for the senior population overall, according to the analysis, which is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey and U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey.
“Recent household surveys show that retirees of color, especially blacks and Latinos, rely more heavily on Social Security and have less access to other types of retirement income than their white counterparts,” researcher Nari Rhee of UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, said in a statement.
Less than one-third of employed Latinos and less than half of black workers are covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan, a key resource in ensuring adequate retirement income. As a result, they are disproportionately reliant on the limited income provided by Social Security, the report found.
Among retirees age 60 and older, people of color are disproportionately likely to be low income: For 2007-2009, 31.6 percent of blacks and 46.5 percent of Latinos were in the bottom 25 percent income group. The “other” race category of the Census, which includes Asian/Pacific Islander and Native American populations, is also more likely to be low-income (38 percent), the report noted.
“It is critical to improve both job access and job quality -- in terms of wages and benefits, including pension benefits -- to improve retirement prospects for current workers,” Rhee stated.