More than one in four U.S. Latinos is living in poverty, according to 2010 U.S. Census bureau figures released this week. That’s nearly 27 percent of the country’s 50.5 million Latinos—13.2 million people—and an increase from 12.3 million in 2009.
And according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2011 Kids Count Data Book, 31 percent of Latino kids live in poverty.
The disturbing overall Latino figures are part of a larger report stating that more Americans—15.1 percent or 46.2 million—are living in poverty now than in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been collecting poverty data.
Though Hispanic household income slipped only slightly between 2009 and 2010, the povety figures reflect the larger reality that between 2005 and 2009 the median wealth among Latino households plummeted by 66 percent.
The new report, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010,” highlights a sole area of improvement for Hispanics: Those of us without health insurance dropped from nearly 15.5 million, or 31.6 percent, in 2009 to 15.3 million, or 30.7 percent, in 2010.
Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard, told the New York Times that the report confirmed that “this is truly a lost decade,” he said. “We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”
“We need to continue make sure that safety net is there for people who are falling into poverty,” says Leticia Miranda, Associate Director of the National Council of La Raza’s Economic Policy Project. “Things like tax credits, unemployment insurance and food stamps are really important while people still don’t have a job. But it’s still important to focus on job creation.”