59% of college-educated Latinos have trouble meeting monthly expenses, report says

A new report examines the fragile state of household finances among college-educated Latinos

A majority of Latinos say they have trouble covering monthly expenses, and almost 40% say they would have trouble finding $2,000 in an emergency, a new study said.

Despite attaining higher education levels in recent decades, many Latinos find themselves in a "fragile financial state," according to the study released Monday by the  TIAA-CREF Institute, the research arm of the New York investment giant.

The report draws on data from the vast 2012 National Financial Capability Study, a national survey of 25,000 American adults, and examines in detail the personal finances of 1,553 respondents who described themselves as Hispanic and reported at least some college education.

"[W]hile growing in economic importance, Hispanics are set apart from the general U.S. population by gaps in wealth and income, as well as less integration with traditional financial institutions, differences that were only exacerbated by the 2008-2009 recession," the report said. "Such disparities affect even college-educated Hispanics, a growing sub-group."

The study, done in collaboration with Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University, adds to a growing body of research on the troubled state of Latino finances, including among the college educated, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. Among all U.S. ethnic groups, Latinos were the hardest hit by the crisis and subsequent Great Recession, researchers have found.  

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FOR THE RECORD:

Latino wealth survey: In the May 19 Business section, an article about a study of Latino financial issues referred to the Global Financial Literacy Center. The name is Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. —
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Earlier research cited by the TIAA-CREF study shows that from 2005 to 2009, Latino household wealth fell 66%, compared with 53% for African American and 16% for white households.

Unemployment among Latinos doubled from 2007 to 2011, and the poverty rate rose six percentage points from 2006 to 2010, both increasing faster than any other ethnic group, the study said.

The TIAA-CREF survey found that 59% of respondents said they have trouble covering monthly expenses.

It also found that more than half of respondents said they were unable to save at all, and 20% said they spent more than their income over the past year. One third of respondents said they spent as much as their income.

Homeownership among Latino households trails the broader population, with only 53% reporting owning a home compared to 71% for whites, according to the survey.

Illustrating both a cause and symptom of Latino financial difficulties, half of the respondents reported engaging in expensive credit-card practices that can run up interest charges and fees, including paying the minimum monthly balance only, using a card for a cash advance or incurring a late fee.

Twitter: @deanstarkman

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