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Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment

April 4, 2013 Comments off

Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment

Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project

Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment explores how families weather job loss, with specific attention to differences by race and family income.

To provide greater insight into the challenges and choices families face, the report also draws on a unique set of in-depth interviews with 51 families who were unemployed for one month or more between 1998 and 2010.

The study finds that while families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment, their ability to withstand and recover from losses differed dramatically:

  • Low-income families and those of color had both the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative effects.
  • Families who had some unemployment not only lost income while not working, but also experienced longer-term wealth losses.
  • Those without personal savings and kinship support frequently used resources they had allocated for their children’s education or their own retirement to fund short-term needs.
  • Those who experienced unemployment between 1999 and 2009 were 1.3 times more likely to have suffered a loss in wealth during the decade than other families.
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How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?

January 10, 2013 Comments off

How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?

Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project

Past research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project has shown the power of a college education to both promote upward mobility and prevent downward mobility. In the wake of the Great Recession, however, many have questioned whether the advantageous market situation of college graduates has suffered under the pressure of the economic downturn.

This report, How Much Protection Does a College Degree Afford?, explores whether recent college graduates weathered the recession more successfully than less-educated groups. Using data from the 2003–2011 Current Population Survey for 21- through 24-year-olds, it reveals that a four-year college degree helped shield recent graduates from a range of poor outcomes during the Great Recession, including unemployment, low-skill jobs, and lesser wages.

Key Findings

  • Although all 21–24-year-olds experienced declines in employment and wages during the recession, the decline was considerably more severe for those with only high school or associate degrees.
  • The comparatively high employment rate of recent college graduates was not driven by a sharp increase in those settling for lesser jobs or lower wages.
  • The share of non-working graduates seeking further education did not change markedly during the recession.
  • Out-of-work college graduates were able to find jobs during the downturn with more success than their less-educated counterparts.
  • The findings show a real deterioration over the course of the recession in the market position of recent college graduates. However, these effects were quite small when compared with those experienced by high school and associate degree-holders.

Weathering the Great Recession: Did High-Poverty Neighborhoods Fare Worse?

November 15, 2012 Comments off

Weathering the Great Recession: Did High-Poverty Neighborhoods Fare Worse?

Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project

Weathering the Great Recession shows that the economic downturn had devastating impacts for families at every rung of the economic ladder. However, in many ways, families in high-poverty neighborhoods were already experiencing their own hard times before the official downturn, making any additional losses that much more harmful to their economic prospects.

The key findings of this analysis include:

  • There were no differences by neighborhood type in the proportions of residents who had wage losses or family income losses greater than 20 percent.
  • Families in high-poverty neighborhoods experienced smaller absolute dollar losses in wealth but higher percentage losses than those in low-poverty neighborhoods.
  • Families in low-poverty neighborhoods were the most likely to be homeowners and to have experienced home equity losses. However, families in high-poverty neighborhoods were the most likely to be behind on mortgage payments and to expect to be behind on payments in the next 12 months.
  • Those in high-poverty neighborhoods were the least likely to be employed and the most likely to be unemployed during the recession. However, the chance of becoming unemployed during the recession did not differ across neighborhood types.
  • These findings provide insight for policy makers working to design effective and targeted policy interventions to strengthen the recovery and address pre-existing challenges faced by residents of high-poverty neighborhoods.

Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream

September 26, 2011 Comments off

Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream
Pew Economic Mobility Project

The Economic Mobility Project’s report, Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream, examines potential factors that cause some Americans who grow up in the middle class to fall down the economic ladder as adults. Authored by Gregory Acs during his tenure at the Urban Institute, the report finds that a middle-class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime. Marital status, education, test scores and drug use have a strong influence on whether a middle-class child loses economic ground as an adult. Race and gender also are factors in who falls out of the middle class. The racial gap in downward mobility is driven by a disparity between white and black men, and the gender gap in downward mobility is driven by a disparity between white men and white women.

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