Special Report

The Worst States for Hispanics

10. Nebraska
> Pct. residents Hispanic:
> Hispanic homeownership rate: 46.5% (22nd highest)
> Hispanic unemployment rate: 5.0% (13th lowest)
> Hispanic incarceration rate: 867 per 100,000 people (25th lowest)

Only 53.2% of the Hispanic adult population in Nebraska graduated from high school, the second lowest graduation rate among the Hispanic population of any state. At the same time, 94.2% of white adults in the states graduated from high school. This 41 percentage point high school attainment gap between whites and Hispanics is the largest such disparity of any state in the country. Despite relatively low high school attainment rates among Hispanics, the income gap between the typical Hispanic household and the typical white household is not as drastic as it is nationwide. The difference in annual income between white and Hispanic households in Nebraska is $15,926, roughly $1,000 less than it is nationwide.

As is the case in most states, the vast majority of Hispanics in Nebraska are originally from Mexico. Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the state, and their presence in Nebraska is projected to more than double to over half a million people by 2050.

9. California
> Pct. residents Hispanic:
> Hispanic homeownership rate: 41.9% (16th lowest)
> Hispanic unemployment rate: 7.6% (10th highest)
> Hispanic incarceration rate: 757 per 100,000 people (20th lowest)

Hispanics, the vast majority of whom identify as Mexican, make up 38.2% of California’s population, the third highest share of all states. For the first time, Hispanics and Latinos in the state outnumber whites, who represent the majority in nearly every other state. Despite the Hispanic plurality, whites are still far better off financially, as well as in a range of other factors, compared to Hispanic residents. Despite the fact that Hispanic households tend to be larger than white households, the median income of Hispanic households is just $47,434. While this is among the highest incomes compared with Hispanic households in other states, it is $25,583 lower than the median of white California households — one of the largest income disparities between white and Hispanic households in the country.

California has the nation’s largest unauthorized immigrant population, estimated at over 3 million people. Many of these individuals are employed as farm workers in California’s highly productive agriculture industry. Most of these undocumented immigrants are from Mexico, speak only Spanish, and live in poverty.

8. Arizona
> Pct. residents Hispanic:
> Hispanic homeownership rate: 48.7% (20th highest)
> Hispanic unemployment rate: 8.3% (7th highest)
> Hispanic incarceration rate: 1,453 per 100,000 people (7th highest)

Recent efforts to implement anti-immigrant laws in Arizona highlight tensions between the ethnic groups in the state. In April 2010, Arizona enacted an immigration enforcement law widely considered unconstitutional. The law, called SB 1070, originally included provisions that would make failure to carry federally issued alien registration papers a crime, and make it unlawful for unauthorized residents to work. Another provision authorized warrantless arrests when an officer believed a person had committed a public offense, and also allowed for that person’s removal from the United States. Finally, the bill required law enforcement to determine immigration status during lawful stops. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down all but the last of these provisions.

The incarceration rate is high in Arizona for all ethnic groups. While the incarceration rate for whites, at 633 per 100,000, is above average compared to all states, it is still less than half the comparable rate for Hispanics. Each year, 1,453 Hispanic or Latino Arizona residents are incarcerated per 100,000 Hispanic people, one of the highest rates in the country.

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