Photo: Pew Research Center
Hispanics have grown more satisfied with the nation’s direction and more confident in their finances since 2011, according to a new survey from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Today, half of Latinos (51%) express satisfaction with the direction of the country, a 13-percentage point increase over 2011, when 38% said the same. One-third (33%) now report that their finances are in “excellent” or “good” shape, up from one-quarter (24%) who said the same in 2011. And looking forward, Latinos have grown more optimistic about their family’s finances in the next 12 months, with three-in-four (73%) expecting improvement, up from 67% who said the same in 2011.
These changing assessments about finances and the country’s direction occur as some economic indicators recently have improved for Hispanics. In the third quarter of 2012, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 9.9%, down from 11.2% in the third quarter of 2011. (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics today reported that the Hispanic unemployment rate in October 2012 was 10%, essentially unchanged from 9.9% in September). The Hispanic unemployment rate is well below its level at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, when it stood at 12.7%. The poverty rate among Hispanics has also declined, falling to 25.3% in 2011 from 26.5% in 2010.
However, other economic indicators illustrate the difficult times that Latinos have faced since the onset of the Great Recession. Driven mainly by the collapse in the housing market, median household wealth among Latinos declined by 58% between 2005 and 2010, more than that of either whites (18%) or blacks (54%). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income for Hispanics did not grow between 2010 and 2011.
Nonetheless, compared with the public as a whole, Hispanics are more satisfied with the country’s direction, according to Pew Research Center surveys. Just 31% of the general public says they are satisfied with how things are going in the country today, compared with 51% of Hispanics.
When it comes to personal finances, Hispanics’ self-assessments, while improving, are not as positive as those of the general public. One-third (33%) of Hispanics say their current financial situation is “excellent” or “good” while 43% of the general public says the same. On the other hand, Hispanics are somewhat more optimistic than the general public about the future of their family finances. Some 73% of Hispanics say they think their finances will improve in the coming 12 months, while 67% of the general public says the same.
During this year’s presidential campaign, the issue of jobs and the economy has been a top concern for Hispanics. According to the Pew Hispanic survey, 47% of all Hispanics rate the issue as “extremely important” to them personally. Among Hispanic registered voters, 54% rate jobs and the economy as extremely important. In both cases jobs and the economy ranks as a top issue for Hispanics, just as it does for the general public.
This report is based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,765 Latino adults conducted from September 7 to October 4, 2012; a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data; and poverty and household income data published by the federal government.
The report, “Latinos Express Growing Confidence in Personal Finances, Nation’s Direction,” authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director, and Seth Motel, research assistant, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website, www.pewhispanic.org.