It’s a shocking statistic. A new survey has found that a whopping 80 percent of American adults are unemployed, currently living in poverty or will face poverty at some time in their lives. That’s four out of five adults living in the United States; a huge number considering that the phrase “The American Dream” has been bandied about so casually over the years. But now, it’s as if that dream is nothing more than a stratified myth, a disappearing mirage.
The gap between rich and poor has been rapidly and substantially increasing in recent years, and whites are the demographic segment facing the greatest increase in poverty levels. White single mothers are now on par with black mothers when it comes to living at or below the poverty line, and by the time they reach the age of 60, 76 percent of white adults will face economic insecurity.
William Julius Wilson is a Harvard professor and an expert on race and poverty. He says that economic position accounts for some of the United States’ major disparities and that we, as a society, need to wake up before things get even worse.
“It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position. There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” he says.
In concentrated areas of Appalachia and similar small towns across the United States, over 60 percent of the entire population is comprised of poor whites, who are sometimes called “the invisible poor” by experts in the field. How “invisible” they are among the rest of society may be up for debate though; the majority of white Americans, at least, are aware of the dismal numbers among their own demographic. In a recent economic study, 63% of white adult Americans said the economy was not doing well.
While the number of poor whites has exploded in recent years, minority groups have also seen growing levels of poverty, and those levels still remain three times higher than those of whites. It seems the only demographic who have no fear of poverty is that elusive and mysterious “1%.” In that demographic, whites make up 83% of the population.
The poverty numbers grow ever worse with long range financial projections. By the year 2030, it is predicted that 85 percent of all American adults will face poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives.
There is a bit of good news, though, amongst all the doom and gloom. Disparities in health and education pertaining to race have shrunk during the last 50 years, and the gap in test scores is now more dependent on economic factors than race. Both factors give some hope for continued growth in minority populations when it comes to equalizing the playing field for opportunities in the United States.
80 percent of American adults are currently struggling or will struggle with poverty and unemployment at some point in their lives. It’s a huge and some would say terrifying statistic. What happened to the American dream, and will it ever be restored?
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: New York Times
Source: CBS News