NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Education And Hispanic Income

January 30, 1997

While income among all other groups is rising above the inflation rate, income among Hispanic families is falling, according to new Census Bureau data. For the first time, the poverty rate among Hispanic people in the U. S. has surpassed that of blacks.

  • In 1995 median household income rose for every ethnic and racial group in the U. S. except for the nation's 27 million Hispanic residents -- who experienced a decline of 5.1 percent.
  • Hispanics now constitute nearly 24 percent of the country's poor -- up 8 percentage points since 1985.
  • Of all Hispanic residents, 30 percent were considered poor in 1995, meaning they earned less than $15,569 for a family of four -- three times the percentage of non-Hispanic white people in poverty.
  • Overall income for Hispanic households has dropped 14 percent since 1989 -- from about $26,000 to under $22,900, while rising slightly for black households.

While social scientists differ as to the cause, lack of education is widely acknowledged to be a primary factor in the income decline. In the opinion of a Census Bureau researcher, "the immigrants tend to be low-educated individuals, hold service-sector jobs and have little or no English, and all these things contribute to income."

  • Only 9 percent of Hispanic Americans over age 24 held college degrees in 1994, compared to 24 percent for non-Hispanics, according to an earlier Census Bureau study.
  • Hispanic students were doing proportionally better in 1975, when 5 percent held college degrees -- compared to 11.6 percent for non-Hispanics.

Source: Carey Goldberg, "Hispanic Households Struggle as Poorest of the Poor in U. S.," New York Times, Thursday, January 30, 1997.


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