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Employment and Earnings among 50+ People of Color

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Document date: August 03, 2011
Released online: August 16, 2011

Abstract

The number of people of color in the workforce will soar in coming decades as the older population expands, grows more diverse, and works longer. However, African Americans and Hispanics age 50 and older face substantial workplace challenges, including relatively low earnings, high unemployment, and limited access to self-employment. Older Asians fare better, but still lag behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts along many dimensions. This data brief shows how recent trends in labor force participation, earnings, self-employment, and unemployment vary by race and Hispanic origin for adults age 50 and older.

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Introduction

The number of people of color in the workforce will soar in coming decades as the older population expands, grows more diverse, and works longer. However, African Americans and Hispanics age 50 and older face substantial workplace challenges, including relatively low earnings, high unemployment, and limited access to self-employment. Older Asians fare better, but still lag behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts on many indicators.

The Growing Diversity of the 50+ Population

There were 23.2 million people of color age 50 or older in the United States in 2010, including 9.6 million African Americans, 8.5 million Hispanics, 3.8 million Asian Americans, and 1.3 million other nonwhites. This population will soar over the next two decades as the number of Hispanics and Asian Americans age 50 and older more than doubles between 2010 and 2030. By contrast, the non-Hispanic white population will increase only 16 percent.

  • Hispanics will account for 15.3 percent of the 50+ U.S. population in 2030, up from 8.6 percent in 2010.
  • The share of Asian Americans will increase from 3.9 to 6.3 percent.
  • This surge reflects the influx of young Hispanic and Asian immigrants to the United States since 1980.
  • Non-Hispanic whites will account for only about two-thirds of the population age 50 and older in 2030, down from more than three-quarters in 2010.

End of excerpt. The entire brief is available in PDF format.



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