About a year ago, I wrote about the bizarre attempt by some Latino organizations to boycott the U.S. Census. As far as I know, this baffling protest never took off.
As a result, Census numbers continue to trickle in, and they offer the occasionally intriguing, often disturbing look at the state of Hispanics in America. Yes, we have fresh proof that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic, but come on; you know that one already.
But were you aware that Latinos are the most likely group to not have any health insurance (32.4 percent of all Hispanics)? Well, in that case, it’s a damn good thing I’m here to pass along these Census statistics to you, isn’t it?
Now, some of the numbers are more official than others. A few offer only a snapshot of 2010 or even 2009. But all of them are as accurate and precise as government bureaucracies can get.
The most alarming of these figures is the fact that more than a quarter of Latinos (25.4 percent) live in poverty. This compares to an overall poverty rate of 14.5 percent, and is more than double the rate for whites and Asians. But it’s still less than blacks and Native Americans (who “win” this category with a rate of 27.7 percent).
Put another way — and Census numbers are all about putting things another way — the median household income for Latinos was just 70 percent of that for whites. The lack of take-home pay is no doubt because Latinos have an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent, far higher than whites (8.7 percent) and Asian Americans (7.3 percent).
Those grotesque figures would be even more dismal if Puerto Rico, hit hard by the recession, was included in the analysis. Because it’s not a state, the island gets its own set of numbers — including the wacky stat that “massive emigration to the United States and the reduction in birth rate have caused a drop of 2.2% in the population of Puerto Rico.” Apparently, there’s a stampede of Puerto Ricans into the mainland, but that’s a whole other post.
Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Center for American Progress breaks down these figures by saying, “racial and ethnic differences have worsened or stayed the same during the recession and recovery.” These killjoys point out that unemployment and poverty rates rose for Hispanics, while health insurance coverage, retirement savings, and homeownership rates all fell.
In fact, the Center says that “Latino homeownership rates in 2010 … were again close to their levels in 2001 even though Latino homeownership rates had risen from 2000 to 2007.” But I’m going to call my bad on that one. I contributed to the statistics by buying a house in 2004 and selling it in 2009 (no, the bank didn’t foreclose on us).
In sum, the Census numbers “show widening gaps by race and ethnicity throughout the recession and recovery.” The best we can hope for is that the 2020 Census reveals more uplifting news — unless we boycott that one.