In recent decades, the Hispanic community has experienced a great deal of economic progress while facing daunting challenges. However, Hispanics have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken approximately 40,000 Hispanic lives to date and had a disproportionate economic impact on the Hispanic community. The crisis has revealed stark inequalities that must be addressed as part of federal efforts to contain the virus and spur a robust economic recovery.
The more than 60 million Hispanics living in the United States — making up just over 18% of the population — have made significant contributions and progress in the economy. Before the pandemic, an increasing number of Hispanics were starting businesses, taking on professional leadership roles and continuing to make meaningful contributions across the U.S. economy. Hispanics achieved notable gains in educational attainment: the percent of Hispanics with a bachelor’s degree or higher nearly doubled in the last two decades. According to a 2018 study by Brookings, Hispanics were 22% of the American middle class.
However, Hispanics also face inequities and challenges. Despite having a higher level of employment, they were more than two times as likely to live in poverty as Whites, even before the pandemic. In 2018, the median total income of Hispanic households was nearly $20,000 less than that of White households, and the median net worth of Hispanic households was only one-eighth that of White households. More Hispanic children were dependent on food nutrition programs to alleviate hunger.
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