September 24, 2010

One Recession, Two Americas

III. Different Groups, Different Demographics

Demographics as well as experiences differentiate Americans who Lost Ground during the recession from those who Held their Own. In most — but not all — important ways, these differences mirror those reported in earlier reports by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project based on this survey.1

Whites, older adults, the better educated and more affluent were significantly less likely to suffer recession-related hardships and thus were significantly more likely to have Held their Own. In contrast, minorities, younger people and those with a high school education or less are significantly more likely to have Lost Ground.

Whites are significantly more likely to be in the Held their Ground group than Hispanics (49% vs. 29%) or blacks (33%). At the same time, minorities are more likely to fall into the group that Lost Ground (70% of all Hispanics and 66% of blacks but 50% of whites).

As seen in earlier reports, older adults have been more sheltered from the worst of the recession than younger people. According to the analysis, about seven-in-ten people 65 and older Held their Own during the recession, compared with 31% of those 18 to 29 and about four-in-ten adults ages 30 to 49 (40%) and 50 to 64 (44%).

Education remains a buffer against hard times. Nearly six-in-ten college graduates (58%) are among those who Held their Own during the recession, compared with 38% of those with a high school diploma or less education and 40% of those who had completed at least a year of college but did not earn a degree.

Consistent with findings reported in earlier Pew reports, Republicans are more likely than Democrats or political independents to fall into the group that suffered the least during the recession, likely because they have, on average, higher household incomes, more education or are older. When these demographic factors are controlled for, the differences by party largely vanish.

Where you live is associated with how you have weathered the Great Recession. About half of those living in the eastern United States were among those who Held their Ground, compared with slightly more than four-in-ten residents of the Midwest, South and East. About six-in-ten city-dwellers (60%) were among those who Lost Ground, compared with 53% of all  suburbanites and 52% of those who live in rural areas.

  1. numoffset=”4″ For more details on the impact of the recession on different demographic groups, see “A Balance Sheet at 30 Months: How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America,” Social & Demographic Trends, Pew Research Center, June 30, 2010, and “The Impact of Long-term Unemployment: Lost Income, Lost Friends—and Loss of Self-respect,” Social & Demographic Trends, Pew Research Center, July 22, 2010.