The New York Times lays out the disproportionate impact that public sector layoffs have had on African-Americans. Historically, the federal government discriminated less than other sources of middle-class jobs, making public sector work the backbone of the black middle class for generations. Now, that backbone is taking hit after hit. Even before this wave of government layoffs, the African-American middle class was struggling to stay middle class:
A study by the Brookings Institution in 2007 found that fewer than one-third of blacks born to middle-class parents went on to earn incomes greater than their parents, compared with more than two-thirds of whites from the same income bracket. The foreclosure crisis also wiped out a large part of a generation of black homeowners.
Add in the fact that in Chicago, for instance, "nearly two-thirds of 212 city employees facing layoffs are black, according to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union," and this is what you see:
In Michigan, Valerie Kindle, 61, who was laid off in April as a state government employee, said the loss of her $50,000-a-year job with benefits had caused her to put off retirement. Instead, she is looking for work. Two relatives have also lost state government jobs recently.
“There hasn’t been one family member who hasn’t been touched by a layoff,” Ms. Kindle said. “We are losing the bulk of our middle class. I was much better off than my parents, and I’m feeling my children will not be as well off as I was. There’s not as much government work and not as many manufacturing jobs. It’s just going down so wrong for us. When I think about it I get frightened, so I try not to think about it.”
And public sector layoffs are hitting every corner of the country.