Memo: Hispanics Have Made Significant Economic Gains in Recent Years

A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center released this week has a rather dramatic finding – 81% of Hispanics in the US believe their family’s financial situation will improve this year (up from 67% in 2008). 40% say their personal finances are in “excellent” or “good,” up from 23% in 2008. The rising and deep economic optimism found in the Hispanic community today can be explained by recent economic data which suggests the last few years have been particularly good ones for Hispanics in the US. Let’s look:

Unemployment Rate Plummeting – The Hispanic unemployment rate has dropped dramatically from its recession high of 13% to just 5.6% today (a net drop of 7.4 percentage points). This is only slightly above the national average of 4.7%. The Hispanic unemployment rate at the beginning of the first Obama term, January of 2009, was 10.1%. Millions of Hispanics are working today who weren’t a few years ago.

Wages Gains Accelerating – According to a new study by Dr. Rob Shapiro, in the 2013 and 2014, Hispanics saw average household income gains of over 3% in each year. These gains were higher than their African-American and white counterparts, and twice what this community experienced in the early years of the economic recovery. Millions of Hispanics are making more money today than they were a few years ago.

Uninsured Rate Dropping – In the last few years the Hispanic uninsured rate has fallen by more than 25%, from 41.8% to 30.5%. This translates into about 4 million Hispanics having gained coverage since the implementation of the ACA, or 7% of the entire Hispanic population in the US. Millions of Hispanics have health insurance that didn’t a few years ago. Millions more would have insurance if two of the states with the largest Hispanic populations, Florida and Texas, had taken advantage of the Medicaid expansion resources available under the ACA.

A few things to note about this data:

- The real economic gains of Hispanics in the US in recent years, and the rising optimism found in the Pew data, comes at the same time we’ve experienced a rise in anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic rhetoric in the US. -

- The data includes the 8m-9m undocumented immigrants in the US who are Hispanic (total Hispanic population is about 55m today).

In sum, despite the lack of legalization and rising anti-immigrant/Hispanic rhetoric in the US, Hispanic families in the US have made very significant economic gains in recent years. Depending on how one weights the data, it may be the case that Hispanics made more significant economic gains than any other demographic group in the 2nd Obama term.

Faced with a challenging political climate in the US, the Hispanic community has stood strong, worked hard and grown even more optimistic about their future. It is hard to imagine a more powerful repudiation of Donald Trump than the economic success and rising optimism of Hispanics across the US today.  

New Study Finds Spanish Language Media Thriving

Suddenly it seems like every publisher and their mamá has decided to court the emerging Latino market.  Recently, The Huffington Post announced a new section, "Latino Voices," and Fox News Launched Fox News Latino.  I guess they too read the census.  It is notable that the bulk of the new non-Latino-owned mega-sites are emerging in English - an obvious evolution given that bilingual and English-dominant Hispanics are more digitally plugged in than Spanish-dominant Hispanics.   But while various new enterprises clamor for this readership online, there's also something interesting happening off-line: Spanish-language outlets are tending to do better overall than their mainstream English-language peers. 

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, many Spanish-language outlets are growing.  Univision, the largest Spanish-language network is now performing competitively with the three major English-language broadcast networks.  According to the study: "In the 2010-2011 television season, Univision was the only major U.S. TV network to grow average primetime audience among 18-49 year olds-up 8% versus the season before. For the same demographic group, among the English-language networks, Fox lost 4%, CBS lost 8%, ABC lost 9% and NBC lost 14% over the same period."  In addition, the number of Spanish-language radio stations increased, magazines demonstrated year-over-year growth in ad spending, and while Hispanic newspapers saw a dip in their circulation, they still fared better than their English-language peers. 

The growth of Spanish-language media may surprise some.  Read one way, all signs point away from Spanish-language media: Latinos are increasingly young and American born, and a majority is bilingual.  Adios Español, hello Ingles. Right?   Not so fast.  That assumption belies the experience of most young Latinos who, regardless of their default tongue, move seamlessly between English and Spanish-dominant worlds.  Even I who grew up in an English-only home watched Sabado Gigante and rode a school bus where we only listened to La Mega 97.9 and Amor 93.1.  It should be no surprise that Latinos continue to consume Spanish-language media.

Beyond language, there are additional unique strengths of the Spanish-language press.  While local newspapers continue to shut their doors, the structure of the Spanish-language print press in local and regional clusters makes them some of the only outlets that still offer local news.   That offers Latinos a way to access their local news, and it allows businesses a way to access local Latinos.  Consider this:

Local ad revenue makes up a much larger slice of the advertising pie for Hispanic newspapers than does national ad revenue. In 2010, local ads accounted for 78% of all Hispanic newspaper ad revenue, or $554 million, according to Latino Print Network. National ad revenue accounted for 21% ($151 million); online web advertising represented only 1% of ad revenue ($7.2 million).

As more Latinos gain digital access, these numbers will shift yet again - but in which direction?  Will Spanish-language media begin to turn that offline interest into online readership?  Will they begin to expand their coverage to include English?  Will more English-language online sites decide they too need a tilde in the title?  Could it be that while the traditional "cross-over" has meant Spanish to English that some of these sites will ultimately expand to Spanish?  And most importantly, even with all the translators in the world, will any of these Jose's come lately be able to deliver for a Latino audience when their outlets are neither Latino owner nor operated?

Interview with Pollster Matt Barreto: Obama's Approval Numbers Slipping, Immigration as a Generational Priority & More

Yesterday, Latino Decision released a new poll which found Obama's approval numbers dipping among Latinos.  Here, Latino Decisions pollster Matt Barreto weighs in on the importance of immigration to young Latinos, how the new changes in prosecutorial discretion could affect Obama's approval ratings, and who Latino voters will hold accountable for the debt deal. 

AM: The economy has shot back to being the #1 issue.

MB: The economy and immigration have both been mentioned at top issues of concern by Latino voters since SB1070 took center stage in the Spring of 2010. For most of 2010 the economy was listed as the top issue, and immigration as the number two issue, especially as the election neared and the candidates and the media talked non-stop about the economy. Into 2011 as more and more media attention in the Latino community focused on immigration and deportations, immigration popped up as the top issue. This was also around the time that President Obama hosted multiple meetings on immigration, and gave the speech in El Paso. Now, with the extensive focus on the debt ceiling in August, we see the economy returning as the top issue, however immigration remains a very important issue as well to Latino voters.

AM: Immigration reform/DREAM was most important to Millennials and young Gen X'ers - 45% named it as their main issue, compare to 37% of respondents over all.  Was that surprising at all given that they are the most likely to be American-born?

MB: Immigration reform, and especially support for the DREAM Act has become a very significant issue with younger Latinos. This is because they are more likely to be in contact, through their extensive social networks, with DREAM Act-eligible Latinos.  When a young undocumented college student gets detained or deported, news spreads very quickly across facebook and twitter, and our survey data suggests younger Latinos are very, very committed to this issue.  Even as the younger population tends to be heavily U.S. born, we know that their parents or grandparents are immigrants.  So when the immigration issue comes up you are speaking about their friends, and their parents, so it becomes very personal. While they also worry about their future in terms of the economy, jobs, the issue of immigration has become very personal, and symbolically important.  In our previous poll in June 2011, we found that 59% of Latinos age 18-35 said they personally knew an undocumented immigrant, the highest of any age group.  This month in August 2011, we found that 82% of Latinos age 18-35 support the state level DREAM Act to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who are accepted to college.

AM: Do you think these numbers will be impacted by the latest change in prosecutorial discretion?

MB: The August 2011 impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll was in the field July 29-Aug 9, a good week before word came of the change by DHS in detention and deportation policy. While Obama's approval numbers have dropped 10 points among Latinos since April, a good question is whether or not the recent changes to DHS policy will turn those numbers around. If the White House actively promotes the new policy shift, through public outreach to Latinos, there is good reason to believe Latinos will respond with increased support for the President. While immigration is just one of a number of important issues to the Latino community, it has become a very important symbolic issue over the past two years. With prominent figures such as Jorge Ramos and Luis Gutierrez continuing to call attention to the Obama administration's record on deportations, and the lack of immigration reform in the Congress, Latino voters know very well the failed promises on immigration. Now, with this new announcement by DHS, this could provide a first positive step for the President in talking to Latino voters about a humane solution to immigration enforcement. However, the President and the White House must tout this accomplishment, not sweep it under the rug like a small footnote, in their outreach to Latinos. The next impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll will be released in early October 2011 and we will gauge reaction to this policy shift.

AM: The numbers on the deficit are pretty dramatic and a far cry from the actual deal.  Did you get a sense that respondents realized that?  And if they don't know, once they do, who will they hold accountable? 

MB: With respect to the debt deal, the data are very clear - Latino voters strongly supported a solution that included both tax increases on the wealthy, alongside cuts to existing programs.  The deal that was struck on August 2nd did not produce any tax or revenue increases, and this is very far out of touch with what a majority of Latino voters supported.  But not just Latinos, almost every poll showed that a majority of all Americans supported the inclusion of tax increases on the wealthy as a way to address the debt ceiling issue.  In this survey we did not ask respondents who they blame, but the deal could only be achieved by both Republicans and President Obama cooperating, so my sense is that both sides are to blame.  Back in February we asked respondents if they thought policymakers in Washington D.C. take into account the viewpoints of the Latino community when enacting economic reforms, and 43% said no, 38% somewhat, and just 11% said yes.  The August debt deal is further evidence that what Latino voters told us in February is true.

AM: In Texas, numbers are highest for Republicans, even higher than Florida - was this in the field before or after Rick Perry got in the race?

MB: The poll was in the field before Rick Perry announced.  I believe he announced on August 13th and our poll was out of the field on August 9th.  The sample sizes by state are small, so we don't read too much into them unless there are huge differences.  The overall sample for the poll is n=500 with a margin of error of +/- 4.3.


Hispanics Hardest Hit by Economic Downturn

Yesterday morning NPR featured a segment on a study highlighted by The New Republic that shows that the poverty rate among Hispanics/Latinos has jumped at a rate much higher than for any other demographic.  The number of Hispanic children now living in poverty has swelled by 12%, while that number actually fell among other minorities.  Income has also gone down for Latinos more than for any other group - decreasing by an average of 5.6% for Latinos, while income only decreased about 2.3% for non-Hispanic whites and among blacks.  This data suggests serious demographic concern. 

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote about the economic plight of Latinos in honor of Hispanic Heritage month.  As this month begins anew, it is evident that things have not gotten any better for Latinos, rather the economic situation among this demographic has worsened, which in turn will have a ripple effect on all communities. 

The Census Confirms: The U.S. Increasingly More Southern and Western

On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its estimates of state-by-state population, which show a decades-long pattern continuing apace: growth in the country's Southern and Western states continues to out-pace that in the states of the Northeast and Midwest.  Sound familiar? Yes, that's because you heard it here first.  Since NDN began its analysis of the Hispanic electorate and the demographic trends nationwide, we concluded that our nation is becoming:






Some have criticized President-elect Obama for having a Western-heavy cabinet and administration, and while this might not have been intentional, it does reflect the demographic trends of the nation.  Finally, the Census data is important because it provides our first clues as to re-districting based on the 2010 Census - for example, Texas is expected to gain three House seats, Nevada will most likely gain at least one. Stay tuned as NDN continues its demographic analysis during 2009, in preparation for re-districting analysis. 

The Obama Administration Reflects 21st Century America

Over the past week the number of Hispanics/Latinos in Barack Obama's administration jumped to 7 individuals, an historic number, with the appointments of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis.  Even before this week, Obama was already receiving praise for setting a record of top Hispanics in the Cabinet (full First Read Cabinet Census listed here).  The number of senior Latino staff to the White House might increase once again, if Adolfo Carrion is in fact named to head the White House Office of Urban Policy.  The Latinos named to the administration so far, and their posts: 

- Gov. Bill Richardson (NM), Secretary of Commerce
- Nancy Sutley (of an Argentine mother), Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Moises "Mo" Vela, Director of Administration Office of the Vice President
- Luis Caldera, White House Military Office
- Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
- U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Secretary of the Interior
- U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Secretary of Labor

Additionally, Rep. Xavier Becerra was approached for the position of USTR, but it is reported that he decided to remain in the House of Representatives.  Rep. Becerra and others have been asked by the Spanish-language media if they feel that the number of Hispanics named is "sufficient," which completely misses the point of what these appointments mean.  As stated by Rahm Emanuel, "diversity wasn't the driving force here....most importantly, the quality is of a single standard.  We wanted to make sure that we got a great staff of seasoned people - both on the policy front and political front - who knew their stuff."  What we celebrate is not that Hispanics are filling some sort of quota, we celebrate that the new administration is inclusive and receptive of talent, regardless of background and ethnicity, and we celebrate that the Latinos being named are leaders who have excelled in their respective fields.   We celebrate that Latinos are not only a growing demographic, but that it is finally out in the open that they are also a part of the most talented pools of leadership in the United States.

As Simon has stated, these appointments mean that Democrats - and President-elect Obama - are working to build a very 21st century, and potentially durable, coalition.  They are discovering the new electoral map of this new century, and employ the latest and potent tools to engange the American people.  Obama particularly engages the Latino community through his Spanish-language updates and press releases on the inauguration, and through the Spanish translation of all his press releases and weekly address.  

NDN congratulates all of the Presidential nominees, particularly our friends and collaborators - Rep. Hilda Solis is a longtime friend of NDN's and provided important support to our affiliate Latino voter mobilization campaign, Adelante 08.  Gov. Richardson and Sen. Salazar are also longtime friends and formed part of NDN's founding advisory board. The nomination of our fellow Latinos not only demonstrates the power of the Latino vote, it is a reflection of the reality of our nation's demographic makeup and reflect's our nation's true mixed racial and ethnic identity.  We congratulate President-elect Obama's commitment to reflecting the talent that comes from this racial reality in his Administration. Moreover,  these appointments are proof of our community's abilities - these Latinos are also the most qualified people for the job. 

End of the Southern Strategy

One more nail in the coffin of the GOP's southern strategy: Virginia goes blue in 2008. NDN has long discussed the impending downfall of the Southern Strategy as the demography of traditionally "red" states changes to reflect the 21st century composition of the country.  Before last night, Virginia had voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1952, except in 1964. This year Virginia's Latino voters and immigrant voters played a critical role in winning the state for Democrats. There are about 150,000 registered Latino voters in Virginia (almost twice the number from 2004), and let's not forget that Jim Webb defeated Sen. Allen in 2006 by 10,000 votes. Hispanics comprise 3% of total eligible voters, but last night they accounted for 5% of total voters in Virginia - a state that Obama won by 5% (or close to 155,000 votes). This is another example of Hispanics voting at a higher rate than the general electorate. Could Virginia,with its growing Hispanic and immigrant population, be the next Nevada?

McCain's Mixed Messages on Immigration?

NDN has followed U.S. Sen. John McCain's track record on Immigration. The latest is John McCain's second ad on immigration in Spanish. Andres commented on the ad during an interview with NPR:

"It's disturbing to me, as a Hispanic, to have someone who feels he can blatantly deceive and think people won't pay attention," says Andres Ramirez, vice president for Hispanic programs at NDN..."

Marisa wrote about the ad, and NDN has long advocated on: 1) the importance of the Hispanic vote (this demographic could very well swing several southern and western states in this election), and 2) the issue of immigration as a motivating factor in the way many Hispanics vote regardless of whether they are native or foreign born - this is thanks to the GOP strategy of turning the debate on immigration into a debate on whether Hispanics should be in this country.

Actually, McCain's message on immigration is not mixed at all - since 2006 he's been consistently against immigration reform. The first and second ads focus on misrepresenting Obama's position on immigration, but at no time do they state McCain's position - much less go as far as saying that McCain supports immigration reform. Instead, since the GOP now recognizes that Hispanics respond negatively to these anti-Hispanic attacks, they created the same kind of degrading ad except this time they (inaccurately)attribute the comments about Mexico and immigrants to Barack Obama.

So will McCain's attempt at making Obama seem anti-Hispanic work? Andres is right - it's not working. NDN and analysts across the board believe the large numbers of Hispanic voters in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Florida could be decisive in those swing states. Our latest polling in these states showed that Barack Obama is ahead of John McCain by at least 30 points among Hispanics in the Southwest, and specifically on the issue of immigration, Hispanics believe Barack Obama would do a better job than John McCain. Even in Florida, where the candidates were even among Hispanics (42%-42%), when asked about immigration, 42% of voters trusted Barack Obama to better handle the issue over 37% preferring John McCain. The largest difference was in Nevada, where 60% of Hispanics trusted Barack Obama more on the issue of immigration, while only 18% preferred John McCain.

And the latest ad makes no sense when put in context - on the one hand, the McCain campaign launches this ad to attempt to portray Obama as anti-immigrant, while on the other hand, they create another ad in English and Spanish that attacks Obama for allegedly voting against allowing people to own guns in order to defend themselves from these "criminal aliens" who are "crossing illegally into our country." So which is it?

In a year when the Hispanic electorate has nearly doubled from what it was in 2000 (from 7.5 million to approximately 14 million this year), given that Hispanics make up a large part of the electorate in key Southern and Western states, and given that Hispanics are mobilizing to get out the vote, to vote early and vote absentee in those states, it does not bode well for John McCain.



Se Lanza Campaña llamada "Adelante" en Colorado Para Animar Participación de Votantes

Hoy, el centro de investigación llamado The New Policy Institute, un filial de NDN sin fin de lucro y no-partidario, lanzó una campaña para motivar a ciudadanos Hispanohablantes a votar este Noviembre.

La campaña se llama Adelante. Comienza esta semana con anuncios a punto de saturación del mercado de radio en Colorado, y con una página de Internet, La campaña hará dos cosas: por un lado ayudará a motivar al público a votar y por otro lado explicará el proceso para votar, incluyendo información sobre votación temprana y votación ausente. Se espera que gran parte del público serán Hispanos que van a votar por primera vez. La primera fase de la campaña comienza hoy en Colorado. Entre hoy y el día de las elecciones, Adelante lanzará cientos de anuncios en Denver (estaciones KBNO, KXPX, KJMN y KMXA), Colorado Springs/Pueblo (estaciones KNKN y KRYE), y en Fort Collins/Greeley (estación KGRE). Para escuchar el primer anuncio, “Acuérdate”, o leer el guión del anuncio y la traducción al Inglés, haga clic aquí.

Para más información sobre el electorado en los Estados Unidos, vea el reporte recientemente publicado por NDN, Hispanics Rising II. Durante muchos años, NDN y sus filiales han luchado para asegurarse de que la voz de la comunidad creciente de Latinos sea escuchada dentro del gran debate que informa a la democracia Estadounidense. Esta campaña es el capítulo mas reciente dentro de este esfuerzo de muchos años.

-- Guión del anuncio --


MUJER: ¿Qué tan lejos hemos llegado?
HOMBRE: Acuérdate de Roberto Clemente.
MUJER: De la misma Selena.
HOMBRE: O de César Chávez.
MUJER: Sí, hemos llegado muy lejos, pero no podemos vivir de glorias pasadas.
HOMBRE: Este año, de ti depende decidir si nos quedamos hasta donde hemos llegado o seguimos avanzando.
MUJER: Sigue adelante y vota.

Mensaje pagado por Adelante, NPI y el Tides Center.

More Than Just "Novelas"

As mentioned in NDN's report, Hispanics Rising 2, the growth of Spanish-speaking media is on the rise. In an article this week, the Associated Press reports: Spanish-speaking news casts are eclipsing their English-language competitors in major media markets all over the country: in New York, within the past few months, WXTV's 6 p.m. newscast has eclipsed its English-speaking competitors on ABC, CBS, and NBC stations in popularity among viewers younger than 49. This reflects a trend mentioned in NDN's report: among 25-54 year-olds, the September 9, 2007 Presidential debate on Univision had the largest viewership of any debate - with 1,166,000 viewers. Case and point of the growing influence of the Hispanic viewership: the Nevada State Democratic Party just named Emilia Pablo , reporter and producer for two years at Univision and one of the most recognized faces in the Las Vegas Valley, as its new spokeswoman.

In Los Angeles, KMEX had more viewers in June for its newscast than any of its English competitors, regardless of age, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"It talks about how the United States is changing," said Ray Rodriguez, president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, Inc. "It's a bigger story than just television." One startling change has been the TV-watching habits of Hispanic viewers. In 1995, most Hispanic viewers in New York primarily watched English-language television (62 percent) over Spanish-language stations (38 percent), according to Nielsen Media Research. Last year, viewers favored the Spanish stations 71 to 29 percent.

This trend might alarm those who believe that it's because these new residents and citizens are not assimilating into the United States, but Univision executives have analyzed the viewership and explain: the majority of their viewers are bilingual. As Maelia Macin, Station Manager for KMEX in California explains, "The choice is made more for content than language."

Spanish-language news more aggressively cultivates the relationship with the largest growing demographic in the country by trying to be a resource for them in all areas of life: everything from participating in local community events, to running voter mobilization campaigns, health symposiums, etc. General news is not excluded, it's just packaged differently - in addition to covering the National Football or Baseball League, Spanish-language media also covers major soccer games in Latin America - when rivals were preoccupied with Christy Brinkley's divorce and the capture of a Brooklyn murder suspect, New York's WXTV led its local news with a story about graffiti saying "Get out of the USA " painted near a Peruvian restaurant on Long Island. The Spanish-speaking Univision affiliate figured it was a more meaningful story for its audience, and those kinds of choices are paying off.

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