Special Report

The Worst States for Hispanics and Latinos

Source: Thinkstock

50. West Virginia
> Pct. residents Hispanic: 1.4% (the lowest)
> Homeownership rate: 44.1% (Hispanic), 74.2% (white)
> Unemployment rate: N/A, 6.0% (white)
> Incarcerated people per 100,000: 4,585 (Hispanic), 622 (white)

The socioeconomic disparities between white and Hispanic Americans are smaller in West Virginia than in any other state. While on a national scale the typical white household earns over $16,000 more than the typical Hispanic household, in West Virginia white households earn $5,487 more than Hispanic households — the smallest income gap of any state. The typical white household in the state earns $43,849 a year compared to $38,362 the typical Hispanic household does. West Virginia also has one of the smaller gaps in education attainment between the two demographics. Nationwide, 35.0% of white adults and 15.3% of Hispanic adults have a bachelor’s degree — a difference of 20 percentage points. In West Virginia, 20.5% of white adults and 17.1% of Hispanic adults have a bachelor’s degree, one of the smallest gaps of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

49. New Mexico
> Pct. residents Hispanic: 47.8% (the highest)
> Homeownership rate: 65.5% (Hispanic), 72.0% (white)
> Unemployment rate: 6.5% (Hispanic), 5.4% (white)
> Incarcerated people per 100,000: 980 (Hispanic), 659 (white)

Nearly one-half of New Mexico’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, the largest share of any state in the country. Partially as a result, about 1 in every 3 families in the state speaks Spanish at home. Due to the prevalence of Hispanics, the state government has enacted multiple protections for Spanish speakers. For example, all ballots and voting forms in the state are printed in Spanish and English, and the inability to speak English cannot restrict anyone from serving on a jury or holding elected office.

Disparities in multiple socioeconomic outcomes between whites and Hispanics in New Mexico are not as stark as in most states. For example, the 65.5% homeownership rate among Hispanics in the state is the highest in the country, and only 6.5 percentage points below the white homeownership rate. Nationwide, the Hispanic homeownership rate is 45.5%, and it is 25.7 percentage points below the white homeownership rate.

Source: Thinkstock

48. Maine
> Pct. residents Hispanic: 1.5% (2nd lowest)
> Homeownership rate: 42.3% (Hispanic), 73.5% (white)
> Unemployment rate: N/A, 3.9% (white)
> Incarcerated people per 100,000: 407 (Hispanic), 259 (white)

While nationwide 92.5% of white adults and 67.1% of Hispanic adults have a high school diploma, in Maine the achievement gap between the two demographics is the smallest of any state. While a comparable 92.6% of white adults in Maine graduated from high school, a much higher 88.9% of Hispanic adults in the state have, only a 3.7 percentage points gap and the second largest Hispanic high school graduation rate of any state. Maine also has the second smallest gap in bachelor’s attainment rate of any state as well as relatively small disparities in poverty, income, and incarceration.

Source: Thinkstock

47. Vermont
> Pct. residents Hispanic: 1.7% (3rd lowest)
> Homeownership rate: 39.4% (Hispanic), 71.0% (white)
> Unemployment rate: N/A, 3.2% (white)
> Incarcerated people per 100,000: 891 (Hispanic), 220 (white)

Vermont has the highest Hispanic bachelor’s attainment rate and the smallest gap in college attainment of any state. Some 35.5% of Hispanic adults in Vermont have a bachelor’s degree, just 1 percentage point less than the 36.5% of white adults in the state who do. Nationwide, 35.0% of white Americans and 15.3% of Hispanic Americans have a bachelor’s degree — a 20 percentage point gap. Similarly, Vermont has the second smallest gap in high school attainment between the two demographics.

While Vermont has one of the smallest disparities of any state, it is a relatively unpopular destination for immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. In 2016, just 60 residents from Mexico, South America, and Cuba obtained green cards in the state, the fourth least of any state when adjusted for population.

Source: Thinkstock

46. Hawaii
> Pct. residents Hispanic: 10.0% (20th highest)
> Homeownership rate: 41.0% (Hispanic), 56.3% (white)
> Unemployment rate: 4.3% (Hispanic), 3.4% (white)
> Incarcerated people per 100,000: 415 (Hispanic), 412 (white)

While Hispanic and Latino Americans comprise 17% of the U.S. population, they make up 19% of the total prison population. In Hawaii, however, Hispanics represent 10% of the population and just 9% of the prison population. Hawaii also has relatively small gaps in homeownership, high school attainment, and poverty between whites and Hispanics. Some 10.8% of Hispanic residents in Hawaii live in poverty, the smallest share of any state and just 2.2 percentage points higher than the 8.6% white poverty rate. Nationwide, 21.0% of Hispanic Americans and 10.0% of white Americans live in poverty — an 11.0 percentage point gap.

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