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New Report Examines Hispanic Wealth and Workplace Disparities

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(Hyejin Kang - stock.adobe.com)

Last month, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), released a new report that examines the wealth disparities that threaten the economic security and opportunities of Hispanic Americans and their families.

Despite representing 19% of the U.S. population, Hispanic families hold just two percent of the nation’s total wealth. The median net worth of white families is more than five times greater than Hispanic families, and the increasing concentration of wealth at the top has widened the wealth gap between the average Hispanic and white households.

Across traditional metrics of wealth – like retirement savings, student debt and homeownership – Hispanic Americans continue to face barriers to economic security. Only about one in four have a retirement account, which contributes to Hispanics being less financially prepared for retirement on average than any other racial or ethnic group. Hispanic families are also overburdened by student debt, such that more than a decade after college entry, the typical Hispanic borrower with a four-year degree still owes nearly 80% of what they originally borrowed. And even as homeownership among Hispanic households has increased, it still lags behind that of white households; less than half of Hispanic families own homes compared to nearly three-quarters of white families.

This economic insecurity has left Hispanic Americans much more vulnerable to the adverse effects of economic shocks. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the median Hispanic family lost nearly half of their net wealth. Since then, subsequent gains have failed to mitigate increasing wealth inequality between the average white and Hispanic family.

This is the second issue brief co-released by the CHC and the JEC for Hispanic Heritage Month, which started on September 15 to October 15. The first examined the contributions of Hispanic workers to the U.S. economy. Despite being among those most affected by the health and economic effects of the coronavirus and pervasive structural barriers to full economic participation, Hispanic workers are helping to drive the ongoing economic recovery and are poised to serve as catalysts of future economic growth.

“The report by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) under Chair Don Beyer’s leadership sheds light on the wealth disparities that Hispanic Americans face when it comes to several key metrics of financial security, from access to homeownership to saving for retirement,” said Congressman Dr. Ruiz, CHC Chair. “Throughout the pandemic, Hispanic families have courageously stepped up and risked their lives as essential workers on the frontlines to keep us safe, healthy, and fed. Yet due to the disparities outlined in the JEC’s report, Hispanic Americans’ economic security continues to be at stake. As we continue our recovery from the pandemic and work to Build Back Better, we must strive to lessen these economic disparities and create opportunities that will benefit Hispanics and our nation for generations to come.”

“We continue to recognize and honor the vital contributions of Hispanic Americans to the U.S. economy,” said Congressman Beyer, JEC Chair. “This is also a time to recognize the barriers to financial security and economic opportunity that stand in the way for Hispanic families. The typical Hispanic family has onlya fraction of the wealth of the typical white family, and because wealth serves as an enabler of opportunity, the persistence of this disparity limits the ability of Hispanic Americans to pursue higher education, buy a car or a home, or takea chance on an idea to starta business.”

“As the newest JEC report, co-released with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, makes clear, these barriers not only hold back our entire economy, they also rob our nation of the promising contributions of Hispanic Americans,” added Congressman Beyer. “With investments that bolster family economic security, like those in the Build Back Better Plan, we have a historic opportunity to address the structural barriers to wealth building for Hispanic Americans that constrict the pathways to economic growth that is stronger, stable, and more broadly shared.”

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories.


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