Social Security has evolved to become an integral part of the economic security of African American families, but this was not always the case. At its inception, Social Security did not cover domestic or agricultural work, in addition to other occupations, in which two-thirds of African Americans were employed. Changes to the program over subsequent decades have made it nearly universal. But racial and gender discrimination persists in the labor market and results in higher levels of unemployment, occupational segregation, and lower wages for African Americans, especially African American women. These structural barriers preclude many African American workers from jobs with pension coverage and sufficient income to save for retirement. And these labor market disparities result in Social Security benefit levels that leave a disproportionate share of African Americans in poverty.
The Urban Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will release a brief that addresses these issues, and invite you to an event where participants will discuss the following:
– Social Securityâ€™s history and the reasons domestic and farm workers initially were not covered
– structural barriers that affect the employment and health outcomes of African American workers and result in greater use of disability and survivors insurance and lower Social Security benefits, despite the programâ€™s progressive benefit formula
– proposals to reform Social Security and their projected effects on African American familiesâ€™ economic well-being