While the economy has been in recovery mode for the past several years, many groups have been said to be “left behind” — like essentially the entire middle class.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that based on a range of indicators, including average earnings, inflation, gas prices, jobs created, and unemployment rates, the “evidence remains strong that the recovery has done little to boost the fortunes of people in the vast economic middle.”
The middle class encompasses quite a lot of people. But it’s not the only demographic that’s been categorized as largely “left behind” during the course of the economic recovery that supposedly started when the recession ended four years ago. Among the other groups said to be not faring well as the economy rebounds:
A recently published study by the National Employment Law Project found that real median hourly wages declined for all workers by 2.8% from 2009 to 2012, while falling 5% or more in many low-wage occupations, including cooks, food preparation workers, home health aides, and maids and housekeepers.
Young (Aspiring) Homeowners
Since 2006, Americans in the 25- to 34-year-old age bracket experienced the largest decline in homeownership rates, according to a USA Today analysis of Census data. The homeownership rate for this group decreased from 46.7% to 39.7% from 2006 to 2011, compared to a drop of 2.7 percentage points overall. Those in the 35- to 44-year bracket saw the second highest decline, with homeownership falling 6.3 percentage points.
“Depleted confidence, high unemployment, student loan debt, poor credit, low inventory, competition with investors and stricter qualification standards,” are among the reasons USA Today cited for why fewer young adults are buying homes even as the housing market is said to be enjoying a recovery.
Long-term unemployment has plagued older Americans far more than other age groups. A Boston Globe story published earlier this year catalogued several cases of older professionals who have struggled with joblessness for extraordinarily long periods, citing data from the U.S. Department of Labor indicating that the number of Americans 45 and over who have been unemployed for more than a year had quadrupled since 2007.
Inner City Teens
Earlier this summer, the jobless rate for teens in America was around 25%. Yet as a PBS reported noted, certain groups have a far higher likelihood of not being employed. The jobless rate for teenage African-American high school dropouts is probably around 95%.
In June 2013, the unemployment rate for African-American women was measured at 12%. That’s double the rate for white women (6%), and also higher than the unemployment rate for black women in June 2009, when the economic recovery began, according to reports.
Female Workers in General
Even as employment rates improved in late 2011, a Gallup poll indicated that there was a net job loss for women during the post-recession era, and that women were more likely to be unemployed (11%) and underemployed (22%) than men (8%, 17%). The data caused some observers to declare that women were being “left behind in the recovery.”
Women have since seen the employment situation improve, with unemployment rates recently hitting a four-year low, according to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Unfortunately, the NWLC also found that 60% of women’s job gains are for low-wage positions, compared to 20% of men’s new jobs.