As the country observes Hispanic Heritage Month, it is important to celebrate the strength and resilience of Hispanic Americans while also recognizing the barriers to economic security that still stand in the way of a more equitable economy. The persistent wealth gap between white and Hispanic families, even more so than the gaps in income and employment, serves as a barrier to opportunity, obstructing a wide range of positive economic outcomes. The 61 million Hispanics in the United States, nearly 19 percent of the total population, hold disproportionately less wealth than their white peers: The median wealth, or net worth, of white families is five times higher than the median net worth of Hispanic families, and the wealth gap between white and Hispanic families is even more pronounced (six times as large) when average net worth is considered.
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.
Across traditional sources and metrics of wealth—like homeownership, retirement savings and student debt—Hispanic Americans continue to face barriers to economic security. Since 1994, the share of Hispanic Americans who own a home has been roughly 25 to 30 percentage points lower than that of white Americans. Given disparities in employment, earnings and wealth, Hispanics are also generally less financially prepared for retirement than other racial or ethnic groups. Hispanic families are also disproportionately burdened by college debt; the wealth disadvantage of these families makes the price of college much more intimidating for Hispanic students and their parents who are forced to take on more debt to finance their education.
Read the full brief here.