Over the last few years an unusual phenomenon has kept popping up in public opinion surveys: Blacks and Latinos have become much more sanguine about the country’s prospects as white folks have become more pessimistic. It’s a stark reversal of decades of data in which white folks were almost always more optimistic.
You’d think that the economic landscape — jobs, wages, financial security — might be the biggest indicators of whether people felt optimistic about their country’s trajectory. And that stuff certainly plays a big role. For several years in the early aughts, more and more people across all groups were starting to express more worry.
But between 2008 and 2010, those sentiments started to diverge: Across an array of polls, the nation’s fortunes began to look much rosier to people of color. A poll from Gallup in January showed that people of color were almost twice as likely as whites to think the nation was in a good place. Meanwhile opinions of the country’s current status among white Americans continued to sink. And that pessimism from white folks has grown even as the economic picture slowly improved.
On the flip side, the economic circumstances of people of color have remained stagnant relative to white folks. Unemployment among Latinos is still several points higher than the white unemployment rate. A recent National Council of La Raza report found that Latinos, who were disproportionately employed in the construction sector, were hit particularly hard when people stopped building new houses. The black unemployment rate has been roughly double that of whites for the last half-century. And the wealth gap between white Americans and black and Latino Americans — already large — has grown only wider in the years following the Great Recession.
Read full story: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/03/05/285475535/for-black-and-latino-americans-a-glass-mysteriously-half-full