New Studies Offer Insights on New York City Latinos

Six newly released studies by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at the CUNY Graduate Center provide fresh insight and detailed factual analysis on a variety of issues facing Latinos in New York City. Major findings from each of the studies include:

On Mexicans in New York City:
Mexicans were the fastest growing Latino national group from 1990 to 2005 and became the third largest Latino nationality in the City by 2005, behind Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.

On unemployment for Latino nationalities:
Among Puerto Ricans over 16 years of age in New York City, 44% of the population was out of the labor force. Among Dominicans, the figure was 36%.

On Hispanic voting patterns:
While rates of voter registration for Hispanics remain consistently lower than those of white and black voters, once Hispanic citizens are registered to vote, they are most likely to vote on Election Day, with over an over 80% participation rate.

On socioeconomic differences among Latino groups:
Smaller national groups such as Colombians, Ecuadorians, Guatemalans and Salvadorans have higher earnings than immigrants from larger population groups, such as Dominicans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.

On the demographics of the South Bronx
The relative percentages of Latinos living in South Bronx neighborhoods has increased between 1990 and 2005 from 67% to 72% of the total population.

On disparities in health among Latinos in Washington Heights/Inwood
The neighborhoods have seen rapid growth in their foreign-born population, especially Dominicans (73%), Puerto Ricans (8%), Ecuadorians (6%), and Mexicans (4%), over the last 15 years. Results show that these newcomers and their families face various health concerns, as well as specific barriers to accessing health care.

The studies were derived from census data by CLACLS’ Latino Data Project, which continues to mine 2000 census information and updated reports for insights into New York City’s Latino community. Other notable findings are below, and the complete reports of these and other Latino Data Project studies can be found on CLACLS’ website at

From “Mexicans in New York City, 1990—2005”:

  • If current growth rates continue among all Latino nationalities, Mexicans will become the largest Latino nationality in the City by 2035.
  • The NYC Mexican population is growing because of continued migration and extraordinarily high fertility and birth rates compared to other Latino national groups.
  • Only 9% of all Mexicans over 25 years of age had attained a BA degree or higher in 2005, the lowest rate among all Latino nationalities.

From “Unemployment and Labor Force Participation Rates Among Racial/Ethnic Groups and Latino Nationalities in the New York Metro Area and the Five Boroughs”:

  • Unemployment continues to plague the Latino community in the New York metropolitan area. Although there has been a decline in unemployment rates among Latinos since 1990, in 2005 the unemployment rate stood at 6.4%.
  • Among Latino nationalities, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans had the highest rates of unemployment, while Guatemalans reported the lowest rates.
  • Data suggest that the ‘real’ unemployment rate among Latinos may be much higher than official statistics since only those actively seeking work are included in unemployment data.

From “Hispanic Citizenship, Registration, and Voting Patterns: A Comparative Analysis of the 2000 and 2004 Presidential Elections”:

  • Despite major growth in the population of Hispanics, many of the children that have contributed to the growth of the population will not be eligible to vote for about 10 years.
  • Although Hispanic voting power may not visibly effect the 2008 presidential elections, it may affect local elections, according to changes in the demographics of particular geographical regions.
  • Hispanic potential voters with greater educational attainment were more likely to register and vote, as were potential voters with higher incomes, and those with jobs. Domestic-born Hispanic citizens were more likely to register and vote than foreign-born naturalized citizens.

From “Socioeconomic Indicators Among Foreign and Domestic Born Latinos, NYC 2005”:

  • There was limited social mobility for older Latino immigrant groups, particularly Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. The relative well-being of newer Latino immigrant groups may indicate a better adaptation to the economic landscape of New York City.
  • The disparity between older and newer Latino immigrant groups may also be due to changes in the profile of those who chose to migrate. It may no longer be the poorest people who opt to migrate from Latin America.
  • It is possible that, because women make of the majority of foreign-born Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, households earn less due to the wage gap between sexes.

From “Demographic, Economic, and Social Transformations in the South Bronx: Changes in the NYC Community Districts Comprising Mott Haven, Port Morris, Melrose, Longwood, and Hunts Point, 1990—2005”:

  • Among all Latinos, the percentage of Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx fell from 76% in 1990 to 53% in 2005. Dominicans increased from 11% to 22%, and the Mexican population rose from 4% to 12%.
  • About 10% of the South Bronx Latino population owned their own homes or apartments in 2005. Median family income among Latinos in the South Bronx increased from $12,300 in 1990 to $19,150 in 2005 while median household income rose from $14,740 to $21,290.
  • Only about 5% of South Bronx Latinos over 25 years of age had achieved a BA degree or higher in 2005. Among Dominicans, the rate was 12%, compared with 3% for Puerto Ricans.

From the report “Disparities in Health and Well-Being among Latinos in Washington Heights/Inwood”:

  • About half of residents employed in the civilian labor force hold service or sales/office jobs, which commonly offer lower or uncertain wages, and few opportunities for employer-sponsored health benefits.
  • Residents are less likely to have health insurance than their NYC peers.
  • Immigrant residents tend to use preventive and health care services less frequently than the general public. Thus, incidence rates of high blood pressure and high cholesterol conditions are significantly higher than in NYC as a whole. Similar patterns are seen for smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.

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