For the Latino Middle Class, Good News and Bad News
So let’s start with the bad news: A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis confirms what activists have been saying for at least a decade. That is, black and Hispanic college graduates face a sizable debt and lifetime income gap compared to white college-grads.
“The long-term trend is shockingly clear,” says William R. Emmons, a Federal Reserve economist. “White and Asian college grads do much better than their counterparts without college, while college-grad Hispanics and blacks do much worse proportionately.”
The “Demographics of Wealth” study tracked 40,000 families and determined that a college degree didn’t serve as the financial boost black and Hispanic Americans were promised. Between 1992 and 2013, the median income of white college-educated households grew 13% compared to those without degrees. Asian college-educated households climbed 31%. But the study also found that, “Conversely, median Hispanic and black college-grad incomes fell 10% and 12%, respectively, while the median incomes of their non-college counterparts rose 16% and 17%, respectively.”
The New York Times suggested that “persistent discrimination” and large student loans were key factors in the unsettling trend.
But there’s also good news for the Latino-American middle class. Investing in the stock market has long been a major source of generating wealth and retirement savings, but just 52% of U.S. households are invested in stocks or mutual funds. And among Americans who self-identify as members of this “investor class,” only one demographic group has increased their participation over the last decade.
In 2006, 74% of the investor class was white; 9% were Hispanic; and 10% African-American. But today, white and black household participation has dropped to 64% and 9% respectively, while the number of Hispanic households investing in stocks more than doubled, reaching 21% this year. That means that even during the peak of the Great Recession, more Hispanic households began investing than ever before.