Data Shows Fewer Latinos Living in Poverty

September 14 2012


Julian Teixeira
(202) 776-1812

Support for low-income families still crucial

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Census Bureau just released new data showing that nearly 300,000 Hispanics—mostly childless adults—left the ranks of the poor in 2011. The proportion of all Latinos living in poverty decreased from 26.5 percent in 2010 to 25.3 percent in 2011, thanks in part to more Hispanics finding employment. Latinos were the only racial or ethnic group to experience a decline in poverty in 2011. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is encouraged to see an improvement in the economic situation for so many hardworking Latinos, and urges lawmakers to preserve critical policies that will help keep Latinos from falling back into poverty. The poverty level for a family of four in 2011 was $23,018.

“We’re very pleased to see a positive shift in these numbers; however, the data shows that there were still 13 million Latinos living in poverty in 2011, six million of whom were children who did not experience a significant reduction in poverty,” said Leticia Miranda, Senior Policy Advisor at NCLR. “We have more work to do to reduce poverty in the Latino community, especially among children and families.”

One reason for the improved economic situation among Hispanics is the declining Latino unemployment rate, which fell from 13.1 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2011, and has continued to drop to 10.2 percent in 2012. Still, the majority of jobs created since the recession are low-wage, and many Latinos lack the skills and training to find higher-paying employment. Support for adult education and retraining programs remains paramount to Latino workers’ ability to find better-paying jobs and pull their families out of poverty.

Anti-poverty programs that reach children—such as Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits—are also crucial for Latinos. With over one-third of Hispanic children living in poverty, support for these programs is essential to prevent many of these children from undergoing the damaging effects of growing up poor.

“Besides keeping people out of poverty, programs like the refundable tax credits or SNAP give a boost to local economies and help create jobs,” added Miranda. “Cutting programs like these—either through sequestration or enactment of the Ryan budget—would hurt our fragile economic recovery, lead us back into a recession, and throw millions of Americans, including many Latinos, back into poverty. Congress must produce a fair and responsible long-term budget plan that grows the economy, contains sufficient revenue to invest in children and in the future, and does not harm vulnerable people.”

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas