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Pew Explores Damaging Effects Of Unemployment & Unexpected Wealth Losses On Mobility And Economic Security

Position on Economic Ladder and Race Impact Recovery

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts, Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment, examines how American families cope with unexpected financial setbacks and how those periods of economic uncertainty draw down financial resources. The report studies families across race and income levels, revealing different experiences resulting from unemployment and the difficult choices many of them face.

Building upon Pew's prior research, this report underscores the significance of financial resources other than income, particularly savings and assets, in defending family economic security and the health of the American Dream.

"Even during periods of strong economic growth, unanticipated financial shocks can harm a family's prospects for upward mobility," said Erin Currier, Pew's economic mobility expert. "Savings and assets play a critical role in ensuring that families can build the resources to protect themselves in times of need and preserve the well-being of their children." 

Analysis for Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment was conducted by researchers at the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University. Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis, the study takes a close look at varying experiences of unemployment across race and family income from 1999 to 2009.

The research shows that families at every rung of the economic ladder experienced unemployment and other financial setbacks, but families at the bottom of the income ladder, Latinos, and blacks had the greatest risk of job loss and the least access to resources to buffer negative impacts. For example, when comparing households that experienced unemployment, the median wealth of white households was at least seven times that of black households in each year of the study. 

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