Expand the EITC, Expand Workers’ Livelihoods

By Yuqi Wang, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

GuardRailWorkers_12_2_2014

The latest Census data on income and poverty is proof that hardworking Americans and targeted policy interventions can create profound economic change. In 2015, there were 3.5 million fewer Americans living in poverty. The Latino community, in particular, saw immense improvements in health and economic stability, including a rise in household income from $42,491 in 2014 to $45,148 in 2015.

One program that lifted 27.5 million working families above the poverty line in a single year is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). It fights poverty by decreasing low- and moderate-income workers’ federal taxes and provides a refund when workers’ tax obligations fall below $0. The EITC is a critical infusion of cash for many hardworking families, helping them pay rent, put food on the table, and pay down debt.

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Breaking Down the Census Data: Good News for Latinos But Not Enough to Close Gaps

By Yuqi Wang, Economic Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Demonstrators joined our Affiliate, Latin American Coalition, in North Carolina last week for a DAPA Day of Action, part of rallies that happened all across the country.

In 2015, Latinos were earning more, less likely to live in poverty, and more likely to have health insurance coverage than they did in 2014. This good news came from the recently released 2015 income and poverty data. A few bright spots in the data from the U.S. Census Bureau include:

  • The income of a typical Latino household income grew from $42,491 in 2014 to $45,148 in 2015. Latino households have not had this much money in their pockets since 2000 when median household income reached $45,649. This 6.1% jump from last year outpaced the 5.2% growth of the typical national household income
  • There were one million fewer Latinos living in poverty in 2015. The percentage of Latinos living in poverty fell by 2.2% between 2014 and 2015 while the national poverty rate decreased by 1.2% during the same time. 
  • Latinos saw the highest increase of health coverage. Health coverage grew by 3.6% in 2015, the most growth out of any racial or ethnic group.

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Latino Poverty Rates in Decline, Household Financial Anxiety Remains High

highway-guardrail_560x292New Census data is out which shows that Latinos’ hard work is translating into higher income and lower poverty. According to the data, there were 900,000 fewer Latinos, including 500,000 fewer Latino kids, who were living in poverty in 2013 compared to the year prior. The poverty rate is still alarmingly high at 23.5 percent for 2013, but the new data shows some improvement.

“We are pleased to see an improvement in these indicators of economic well-being. Half a million fewer Latino children in poverty is a testament to our community’s commitment to hard work and sacrifice,” said Vice President of Policy, Eric Rodriguez in a statement. “However, all American workers, including Latinos, would have experienced greater gains had it not been for the congressional choices that have stunted economic growth and slashed investments in education, housing and nutrition services. This austerity agenda, together with stagnant wages, has left too many working families without sufficient income or supports to meet their basic needs.”

You can read more in our analysis of the data, available below.

2013 Data Latino Poverty Analysis

California’s Population Parity: The New American Story

By Ricky Garza, Communications Coordinator, NCLR

While some pundits worry about what will become of the United States when it finally reaches “majority minority status” in the middle of this century—meaning White Americans make up less than half of the nation’s population—for California the future is already here.  Since 2000, California has had a nonmajority ethnic makeup in which Whites composed less than 50% of the population.  Now the nation’s most populous state reached another demographic milestone as the number of Hispanics grew equal to the number of Whites this week.

According to the California Department of Finance, Hispanic and White Californians now each make up about 39% of the population, with the remaining population composed of Blacks, Asians, and people of mixed race.  This trend will continue, and by early next year Hispanics will be the largest ethnic group in the state, surpassing Whites for the first time since California became a state in 1850.  Once this happens, California will join New Mexico as the only other Latino-plurality state.

While this may be disconcerting to some members of the traditional majority, California has nothing to fear as its demographic transition continues.  Rather, California’s story is an American story with a modern twist.  Over the course of our country’s history, we have welcomed, nearly always with reluctance at first, wave after wave of newcomers, opening the gates of our country to Irish, German, Italian, Greek, Jewish, Asian, and now Latino immigrants.  Being home to the nation’s largest share of undocumented immigrants, California stands to greatly benefit from the U.S. overcoming this latest bout of reluctance by allowing this newest group of Americans to gain legal status and formal admission into the fabric of our country.

Contrary to the xenophobic fears of some nativists who describe America as inundated with new immigrants, California’s ethnic shift is emblematic of national trends:  it is the result of a decades-long process that is slowly transforming America into one of the most pluralistic societies that history has ever seen.  Driven by natural decreases in the White birth rate, a rising number of native-born Hispanic Americans, and immigration from Asia and Latin America, California is a model of the promise of 21st-century America.  This America is more diverse politically, culturally, and ethnically, and it is better because of it. Continue reading