Unemployed and Uninsured

5 04 2009

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in March, the economy had a net loss of 663,000 jobs and unemployment rose from 8.1 to 8.5 percent. The number of unemployed persons swelled from 12.5 million in February to 13.2 million in March 2009, that’s more than the combined population of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

By contrast, at the beginning of the recession in December of 2007, the unemployment rate was at 5 percent representing a somewhat tolerable 7.7 million people out of work.

Of course, while its true that almost everyone is feeling the crunch, the unemployment situation has not affected everyone equally.

  • African Americans had the highest rate of unemployment in March 2009 with 13.3 percent, which is not much different from the 13.4 percent in February 2009, but still representing a sharp increase from the 9 percent in December of 2007.
  • Latinos had the second highest unemployment rate in March 2009 with 11.4 percent up from the 10.9 percent in February. In December 2007, the unemployment rate for Latinos was 6.3 percent.
  • White unemployment in March 2009 was 7.9 percent up from 7.3 percent the previous month and a sharp increase from the 4.4 percent in December 2007.
  • Asians were the only racial group that saw an improvement in their unemployment numbers for March which was at 6.4 percent down from 6.9 percent in February, but still higher than the 3.7 percent (not seasonally adjusted) in December 2007

Given the prevalence of job-based health care, more unemployed people almost certainly means more uninsured people. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured found that nationally, a 1 percentage point rise in unemployment results in 1.1 million more uninsured and 1 million more enrollees in Medicaid and SCHIP.

So, its likely that the number of uninsured people has climbed to 50 million, since a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report found that number of uninsured people has grown from 45 million in 2005 to 47 million in 2006 with nearly 11 percent of all whites uninsured compared to more than 20 percent of all African Americans and 34 percent of all Hispanics.

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