Who’s Most Optimistic in America? the Answer Will Break Your Heart
This is a finding that has turned up in a number of studies, and it’s always fascinating:
Many of the demographic groups that have fared the worst during the recession—including young adults (ages 18 to 24), blacks and Hispanics—have the most upbeat assessments of their own economic mobility, their children’s economic prospects and the nation’s economic future.
This comes from a new Pew report called “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier,” which just about sums up where things stand. “Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some—but by no means all—of its characteristic faith in the future,” says the sobering rundown. “Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living.”
And yet, as far as faith in the future goes, it’s the hardest-hit groups who are looking up — maybe because they see the most room for improvement? This is amazing when you consider how especially cruel the housing bubble and financial crisis were to blacks and hispanics. Between 2005 and 2009, white Americans lost about 16% of their wealth (assets minus debts)-a big hit, to be sure; but blacks and hispanics, whose assets were more heavily tied up in housing, lost 53% and 66%, respectively. Let that sink in a minute; it’s one of the most devastating statistics I know of from a half decade full of devastating statistics.