Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Joint Economic Committee Release New Report Examining Hispanic Wealth Disparities
Washington, October 15, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), released a new report that examines the wealth disparities that threaten the economic security and opportunities of Hispanic Americans and their families.
Despite representing 19 percent of the U.S. population, Hispanic families hold just two percent of the nation’s total wealth. The median net worth of white families is more than five times greater than that of Hispanic families, and the increasing concentration of wealth at the top has widened the wealth gap between the average Hispanic and white households.
Across traditional metrics of wealth—like retirement savings, student debt and homeownership—Hispanic Americans continue to face barriers to economic security. Only about one in four have a retirement account, which contributes to Hispanics being less financially prepared for retirement on average than any other racial or ethnic group. Hispanic families are also overburdened by student debt, such that more than a decade after college entry, the typical Hispanic borrower with a four-year degree still owes nearly 80 percent of what they originally borrowed. And even as homeownership among Hispanic households has increased, it still lags behind that of white households: less than half of Hispanic families own homes compared to nearly three-quarters of white families.
This economic insecurity has left Hispanic Americans much more vulnerable to the adverse effects of economic shocks. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the median Hispanic family lost nearly half of their net wealth. Since then, subsequent gains have failed to mitigate increasing wealth inequality between the average white and Hispanic family.
This is the second issue brief co-released by the CHC and the JEC for Hispanic Heritage Month, which began on September 15 and ends today. The first examined the contributions of Hispanic workers to the U.S. economy. Despite being among those most affected by the health and economic effects of the coronavirus and pervasive structural barriers to full economic participation, Hispanic workers are helping to drive the ongoing economic recovery and are poised to serve as catalysts of future economic growth.
JEC Chairman Beyer said:
“As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, we continue to recognize and honor the vital contributions of Hispanic Americans to the U.S. economy.
“This is also a time to recognize the barriers to financial security and economic opportunity that stand in the way for Hispanic families. The typical Hispanic family has only a fraction of the wealth of the typical white family, and because wealth serves as an enabler of opportunity, the persistence of this disparity limits the ability of Hispanic Americans to pursue higher education, buy a car or a home, or take a chance on an idea to start a business.
“As the newest JEC report, co-released with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, makes clear, these barriers not only hold back our entire economy, they also rob our nation of the promising contributions of Hispanic Americans. With investments that bolster family economic security, like those in the Build Back Better plan, we have a historic opportunity to address the structural barriers to wealth building for Hispanic Americans that constrict the pathways to economic growth that is stronger, stable, and more broadly shared.”
CHC Chairman Ruiz said:
“The report by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) under Chair Don Beyer’s leadership sheds light on the wealth disparities that Hispanic Americans face when it comes to several key metrics of financial security, from access to homeownership to saving for retirement. Throughout the pandemic, Hispanic families have courageously stepped up and risked their lives as essential workers on the frontlines to keep us safe, healthy, and fed. Yet due to the disparities outlined in the JEC’s report, Hispanic Americans’ economic security continues to be at stake. As we continue our recovery from the pandemic and work to Build Back Better, we must strive to lessen these economic disparities and create opportunities that will benefit Hispanics and our nation for generations to come.”