State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?
Special from the Human Services Coalition:
Miami, FL – Conservative attacks on government, public sector workers, social safety nets and the progressive tax system widen the racial economic divide because they disproportionately harm Blacks and Latinos, according to a new report. These findings were released today by United for a Fair Economy in State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?, released in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
“Through their policy proposals, Republican leaders – at all levels of government – are suggesting that we postpone not only the recovery, but also the prospect of a better future,” said Brian Miller, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the report. “GOP austerity measures will ratchet down the standard of living for all Americans, while simultaneously widening our nation’s racial and economic divide.”
HSCàCatalyst Miami finds this particularly corrosive to the work carried out by the Prosperity Campaign, which links residents in need of economic stability with the financial services and healthcare programs that can help. Our network of Prosperity Centers offers services including free tax preparation, economic benefits counseling, homeownership counseling, financial coaching and more. We also help operate a farmers market in Overtown that accepts food stamps and doubles the value of purchases made with food stamps.
State of the Dream 2011 documents how the conservative agenda increases economic inequality and deepens the racial divide. Forty-two years after Martin Luther King’s death, Blacks earn only 57 cents, and Latinos 59 cents, to each dollar Whites earn. The tax cuts advocated by conservatives will worsen this divide by flowing disproportionately to wealthy White households, while the proposed cuts to social safety nets and the public sector work force will disproportionately harm African-Americans and Latinos.
Notable findings from the report include:
- Tax Cuts: New data in State of the Dream 2011 document that Whites are 3 times as likely as Blacks, and 4.6 times as likely as Latinos, to benefit from income tax cuts for those earning over $250,000.
- Public Sector Jobs: Blacks are 1.3 times more likely to work in a state government job than the general workforce, and 1.7 times as likely to work for the federal government in particular. Additionally, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to achieve professional parity there due to civil rights protections unique to the public sector.
- Job Creation: With an official unemployment rate of 15.8% for Blacks, 13% for Latinos, and 8.5% for Whites, Republican opposition to public investments and direct job creation programs disproportionately hurts Blacks and Latinos, while hindering the recovery from the Great Recession for the entire economy.
- Social Safety Net: Financial cushions allow families to survive un- and under- employment; Blacks hold only 10 cents of net wealth, and Latinos hold 12 cents of net wealth, for every dollar that Whites hold, making unemployment insurance, Social Security and public assistance vital to the economic well being of these groups. Among retirement age adults, for example, 60% of Blacks and 65% of Latinos depend on Social Security for over 80% percent of their income, compared to only 46% of Whites.
The report calls for more protection of government employees, who perform valuable functions for society, and additional federal aid to the states. Florida received $4.3 billion dollars in stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, which saved or created 61,697 jobs. Similar job-saving stimulus from the federal government, combined with state-level progressive tax reform, will help Florida address its racial wealth disparities.