NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 4, 2007

The recent news that the U.S. poverty rate fell to 12.3 percent in 2006 from 12.6 percent in the prior year becomes even more noteworthy when you consider that Hispanics led the way, says the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Census:

  • Poverty rates in 2006 were statistically unchanged for whites, blacks and Asians but decreased to 20.6 percent from 21.8 percent among Latinos.
  • The poverty rate among Hispanics is lower today than the poverty rate among blacks (24.3 percent).
  • The per capita income of whites, blacks and Asians increased by 1.8 percent, 2.7 percent and 8 percent, respectively, while Hispanic incomes rose by 3.1 percent.

Given the rapid growth of the Hispanic population due to immigration and higher birth rates, this is a welcome trend, says the Journal:

  • Current Population Survey data compiled by the Pew Hispanic Center show that the Latino poverty rate, which was 22.5 percent in 2003, has fallen for three straight years.
  • America's fastest-growing ethnic group has been steadily improving its economic lot, notwithstanding lower education levels on average and overrepresentation in low-skill occupations.

Unfortunately, most of the media decided to minimize or ignore the poverty figures, preferring instead to play up the Census data showing that 47 million Americans lacked health insurance in 2006, says the Journal.  But the ranks of the insured also grew and most of the uninsured are people who can afford insurance but don't buy it, especially the young, or who qualify for Medicaid and other government programs but are not enrolled.

Source: Editorial, "The Other Census Story," Wall Street Journal, September 4, 2007.

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