Sep 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Latino poverty rate falls but remains above U.S. average

Poverty rates among Hispanic Americans, 2022
Data: Census Bureau; Note: Poverty thresholds vary based on family size and composition; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

The percentage of U.S. Latinos living in poverty has dropped significantly in the last decade but is well above the national average.

Why it matters: Latinos make up 19% of the population and are set to be a plurality of the country's population by midcentury. Failure to address systemic economic inequalities may act as a drag on the nation's future prosperity, some experts say.

By the numbers: According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 16.8% of Latinos — 10 million — nationally lived in poverty in 2022.

  • That's well above the nation's overall poverty rate of 11.5%, but below what the Latino rate was in 2012 — more than 25%.
  • Alabama has the highest share of Latinos who live in poverty (nearly 28%), according to an Axios analysis of census data.
  • Montana was second (24.2%) followed by Pennsylvania (23.9%).

Wyoming had the lowest percentage of Latinos living in poverty (10.2%), likely because of the large number of well-paying oil and gas jobs.

Zoom in: The percentage of Latinos in poverty hovered around 22% for much of the 1970s but shot up to 29% in the 1980s as the population kept growing.

  • It hit its highest mark in modern times in 1994 — 30.7% — following the recession of the early 1990s and a spike in new migration from Mexico after the Mexican peso devaluation crisis.

What they're saying: Addressing poverty is one of the most pressing issues facing Hispanics in the U.S., says José Jurado Vadillo a research economist at Seidman Institute, Arizona State University, tells Axios.

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