Hispanic Middle-Class Incomes Rise Again, to Highest Ever

By Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
September 18, 2018Updated: October 5, 2018

Households headed by Hispanic Americans significantly increased their incomes in 2017, reaching a record median of $50,486—an increase of almost 3.7 percent.

The figure, released with 2017 Census data on Sept. 12, shows Hispanic households overtaking other groups in middle-class income growth.

Overall, median incomes rose by 1.8 percent, including 2.6 percent for whites. Black middle incomes stagnated while the incomes of Asians went down by 2.2 percent, although that group maintained the highest median incomes by a large margin.

Hispanic Americans have notably improved their economic well-being over the past year and a half.

Hispanic unemployment over the past 12 months has fallen, to about 4.8 percent in August, breaking one record after another since December 2017. The lowest point prior to that was 5.2 percent in 2007.

Nearly 350,000 Hispanic Americans have risen out of poverty in 2017, compared to the year before.

Hispanics and Trump

President Donald Trump has been credited with accelerating U.S. economic growth through tax cuts, deregulation, convincing companies to expand production in the United States, and other policies. His carrot-and-stick approach to trade negotiations also has started to bear fruit in recent months.

It’s not clear, however, whether his economic message sufficiently reaches Hispanic voters.

While Trump repeatedly cheered for the record-low Hispanic unemployment, major Spanish-language news media outlets Univision and Telemundo omitted the historical significance of the numbers from their reports both for June and July.

Trump’s policies on some issues seem to resonate with Hispanic Americans, according to a June Harvard-Harrison poll, which focused on immigration.

More than half of Hispanic people polled said current border security is inadequate and immigration law enforcement needs to be stricter, rather than looser. About 70 percent also prefer secure borders to “basically open borders.”

About two-thirds support the Republican proposal for immigration reform, described to the respondents as “a congressional deal that gives undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents work permits and a path to citizenship in exchange for increasing merit preference over preference for relatives, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and funding barrier security on the U.S.–Mexico border.”

A majority of Hispanics said that those crossing U.S. borders illegally should be sent home, even if they are parents with children.

Among Hispanic registered voters, Trump’s job approval reached 35 percent in September, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.