By Chris Adams
Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, an advocacy and policy firm, led National Press Foundation fellows through the often-discouraging statistics on wealth and race.
While many experts talk about the recovery the U.S. economy has experienced since the financial collapse of 2008-2009, Rockeymoore pointed out that a recovery for some is different than a recovery for all.
She urged reporters to always disaggregate the data – to take the big-picture numbers and break them down by race and ethnicity.
“For every dollar of wealth owned by whites, African-Americans have 6 cents and Hispanics 7 cents,” she said. Beyond that, down the income spectrum, poor blacks and Latinos are poorer than poor whites.
“Poverty is not poverty,” she said. “When you’re talking about economic security, African-Americans and Latinos are the deepest underwater.”
That’s why she opposes certain proposed changes to the Social Security system, such as raising the nation’s retirement age. While it is true that life expectancy is increasing for those in the top half of the income spectrum, a similar increase has stalled for those on the bottom half. Overall, she said, raising the retirement age to 69 would result in a 14 percent reduction in monthly Social Security benefits, on average.
For more details, she pointed journalists to her organization’s report, “Beyond Broke: Why Closing the Racial Wealth Gap is a Priority for National Economic Security,” which details data on the racial wealth gap and how it persists in the U.S. She also highlighted the policy section of the Social Security Administration, which contains reports on the management and solvency of the program.