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PRESS RELEASE: Poll Shows Strong and Diverse Support for Social Security

African Americans, Hispanics, Overwhelmingly Assert Importance of Program

For Immediate Release: February 18, 2010

Contact: Jill Braunstein at (202) 452-8097

WASHINGTON, DC – In observation of Black History Month and as we approach the 75th anniversary of the Social Security program, a new brief and recent poll show that support for strengthening Social Security is strong across racial and cultural groups. The brief, Tough Times Require Strong Social Security Benefits, released today by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), presents detailed views on Social Security among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and White Americans.

Current economic hardships brought on by instability in U.S. financial markets have reinforced Americans’ belief in the importance of Social Security. Anxious about their economic security and prospects for retirement, large majorities of Americans (88%) say that Social Security is more important than ever. Although Social Security enjoys support from a majority of Americans, African Americans and Hispanics (91%) are more likely than whites (77%) to say that we have an obligation to provide a secure retirement for all working Americans.

Plagued by higher unemployment rates, fewer assets, and worries about paying their monthly bills, African Americans and Hispanics are especially supportive of strengthening Social Security, according to the brief. For example, when given a choice between cutting taxes and government spending or strengthening Social Security in response to the economic crisis and large deficit, two in three Americans (66%) – including 73 percent of African Americans, 67 percent of Hispanics, and 66 percent of whites – support strengthening Social Security over cutting its benefits.

“Although African Americans and Hispanics, who are more heavily reliant on Social Security benefits, express stronger support than whites in most areas,” said Maya Rockeymoore, CEO of Global Policy Solutions and co-author of the brief, “these findings show that Americans of all colors firmly believe in Social Security’s value to society and want government leaders to take action to keep the program vibrant for future generations.”

Americans are also willing to pay to keep Social Security in existence for future generations. More than three in four Americans (76%) and an even greater proportion of African Americans (86%) and Hispanics (85%), don’t mind paying Social Security taxes because otherwise they would have to support their family members in their retirement. Similarly, 90% of African Americans, 90 percent of Hispanics, and 86 percent of whites agree that Social Security’s societal benefits are worth the cost.

To download the full brief, Tough Times Require Strong Social Security Benefits, click here.

For more on the poll findings, see Americans' Views on Social Security.

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The public opinion poll reported in the brief is part of the project, “Improving Social Security for Retirees and Working Families,” and is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for American Workers Initiative. The Initiative supports new rules and new tools for the 21st Century economy through innovative products and policies to increase economic security within the U.S. workforce, particularly among poor and vulnerable workers. The work also receives support from the Ford Foundation as part of its initiative on Economic Fairness and Opportunity, which focuses on promoting public support for Social Security reforms that increase benefits for low-wage workers. Global Policy Solutions, LLC, prepared the brief for the Academy.

The National Academy of Social Insurance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization made up of the nation's leading experts on social insurance. Its mission is to promote understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security and a vibrant economy.

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