Significant discrepancies persist between the economic experiences of whites and minorities in the United States. The last business cycle and the current recession are no exception. These disparities between minorities and whites have been exacerbated since the start of the recession at the end of 2007 after little to no headway was made in the previous business cycle.
As we approach the end of 2009 many areas of the economy continue to be vastly different—and commonly worse off—than they were at the start of the recession nearly two years ago. The recession that began in December 2007 followed a business cycle of lackluster employment, income and earnings growth, and declining benefits coverage and homeownership for many Americans.
Policymakers’ to do list is long and growing as the nation attempts to move beyond this economic low point. However, addressing the disparities between minorities’ and whites’ economic experiences should be added to that list. Without making a renewed and committed effort to address these disparities African Americans and Hispanics will continue to have less economic security than whites and be more susceptible to fluctuations in the economy. In short, policymakers must do more than simply hope that minorities rise alongside whites in the coming years. For the benefit of minorities and the overall economy, a prosperous expansion should include all Americans and ensure everyone reaps the benefits equitably.
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