Survey: Latinos in U.S. More Confident in Financial Future than Most Americans

One of the nation's fastest-growing demographics continues to believe in the American Dream.

By Sheryl Estrada


Latinos are more optimistic about their financial future than most Americans, despite setbacks from the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. Even though economic indicators, such as household income, show limited progress for Latinos since 2008, one of the nation's fastest-growing demographics has the confidence their personal finances will increase.

The Pew Research Center released its assessment of the 2015 National Survey of Latinos, a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,500 adults, on Tuesday. Four in 10 Latinos said their personal finances are in "excellent" or "good" shape, a 17 percent increase from 2008. Meanwhile, all Americans who have a similarly positive view of their finances remained essentially unchanged.

Confidence Personal Finances in "Excellent" or "Good" Shape

2008 2015
Latinos 23 percent 40 percent
General Public 41 percent 43 percent

 

Confidence Family's Financial Situation to Improve in the Next Year

  2008 2015
Latinos 67 percent 81 percent
General Public 56 percent 61 percent

 

However, Latinos still lag behind the general public in regard to income and poverty levels and household wealth.

 

According to a Pew survey released in April, "Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States,"  the nation's Latino population increased from 6.3 million in 1960 to 55.3 million in 2014, now comprising 17.4 percent of U.S. population. The Latino population grew 57 percent between 2000 and 2014.

The economic impact of Latinos in the U.S. is slated to continue to be significant as the population continues to grow. The latest projections from the U.S. Census Bureau (2014) expect the population to reach 119 million by 2060.

However, the foreign-born Latino population began declining after 2000 and continues to do so. In 2014, among all Latinos, 34.9 percent were born in another country, down from a peak of about 40 percent earlier in the 2000s.

48.7 percent of Latino adults were born in another country in 2014, down from a peak of 55 percent in 2007.

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The Pew survey states, "Mexican-origin Hispanics have always been the largest Hispanic-origin group in the U.S."

The current rhetoric against Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the election began when presumptive Republican presidential candidate Trump made derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, calling them rapists, murderers and drug dealers during his campaign announcement speech on June 16.

In addition, the candidate said he'd deport 11 million undocumented immigrants from the U.S. and build a wall along the approximately 1,800-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

The National Survey of Latinos was conducted on both landline and cellular telephones from October 21 to November 30. So, despite the perpetuation of Trump's hateful speech, Latinos remain confident about their future. (A CBS News poll in April found that 82 percent of registered Latino voters view Trump unfavorably, and only 8 percent view him favorably.)

Education, American Dream and 'La Lucha'

Latinos' faith in the American Dream remains alive. According to the survey, Latino adults are confident in the upward mobility of their children's futures. 72 percent said they expect their children will be better off financially than they themselves are now.

Many Latinos believe education is still the key to attaining the dream. The National Survey also found that, in 2015, Latinos with some college experience or more (56 percent) and U.S.-born Latinos (50 percent) were most likely to say their personal financial situation is either "excellent" or "good." The lowest personal financial ratings in 2015 were among Latinos with less than a high school education and immigrant Latinos — 23 percent and 31 percent, respectively — who said their personal finances are "excellent" or "good."

A Pew survey released in February found 86 percent of Latino parents with children under the age of 18 said it is either extremely or very important their children earn a college degree.

Actor John Leguizamo said the energy and progress of Latino immigrants is related to work ethos. Leguizamo is the narrator of HBO's "The Latin Explosion," a 64-minute documentary that looks back at the long history of Latino contributions to American culture.

"You come here knowing that you're coming here to work, and you're gonna struggle," Leguizamo said in an interview. "And you're coming here with that knowledge, as opposed to the rest of us here already, thinking we're more entitled to things. They don't come here feeling that they're entitled to anything. They feel like they're coming to sacrifice. And that's where the energy comes from."

Legendary actress and singer Rita Moreno, featured in the documentary, told Vulture "la lucha" (the struggle) is a part of the immigrant experience.

"The truth is, we were not welcome here for a very long time," Moreno said. "With respect to la lucha, a lot of us went through that."

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