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Older black workers hit hard by recession, says AARP

February 23, 2010 | 12:30 pm

Graying Americans in general have had a rough time of the recession, and according to a new report from the AARP, older blacks are no different.

Over the last 12 months, a third of blacks who are 45 and older said they had problems making their rent or mortgage payments, while 44% ran into trouble affording essential items such as food and utilities.

The telephone survey included a general sample of more than 1,000 older adults across the country and a targeted sample of 405 older blacks. The research was conducted between Jan. 15 and 27 by Woelfel Research Inc.

The economic downturn has slammed minority workers, especially blacks.

The report found that employer-sponsored health insurance disappeared for 23% of older blacks, while 31% cut back on medications to save money. Half of those surveyed delayed travel plans; 67% cut entertainment expenses.

While the national unemployment rate is hovering around 10%, the rate for blacks older than 45 is 18%. A third are no longer feeding their 401(k), IRA and other retirement accounts, while 26% made premature withdrawals to pay for living expenses. Nearly three in 10 now have a higher balance on their credit cards.

Nearly 20% of blacks between the ages of 45 and 64 started working more hours, while 12% took on dual jobs. The same percentage of blacks older than 65 left retirement and returned to work.

The demographic of blacks older than 45 differed significantly in some respects from the general American population, according to the survey: Compared to the 13% of older Americans overall who sought financial help from family, friends, charities or churches, 28% of blacks did the same. Even more – 45% - consulted friends or family members about finances.

Nearly 45% helped their children cover bills and other expenses and 18% returned the favor for their parents.

But 24% of the general American populace above age 45 sought out financial planners over the last 12 months while just 12% of older blacks did the same.

Only 11% went online to look up financial planning resources.

-- Tiffany Hsu
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