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Mass. named worst state for Latinos

Recent analysis shows vast inequalities

Karen Morales

Massachusetts is the worst state in the nation in economic and social disparities between white and Hispanic residents, according to newly compiled data from financial news company 24/7 Wall Street.

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The Worst States for Hispanics and Latinos: http://bit.ly/2mJGGsZ

The company based its findings off of data compiled from several sources: the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Prison Policy Initiative. They used the results to create indexes of income, homeownership, education and incarceration between the two demographic groups for each state.

According to the data, the median white household in the state earns $82,029 a year, whereas the median income for Hispanic households is just $39,742. Furthermore, 26 percent of Hispanic heads of household own their homes, compared to 69 percent white homeownership. The unemployment rate for Hispanics is almost twice that of whites: 6.5 percent versus 3.5 percent.

There are also stark social indicators. The number of incarcerated Hispanics per 100,000 is 928. For whites, it is just 241. Advocates have long pointed to differences in how majority-Hispanic communities are policed and prosecuted as underlying causes for such disparities.

For Latino-led organizations in Boston, these disparities are not surprising, but seeing how poorly Massachusetts fares compared to the rest of the country is startling.

“The findings in the report are not news to thousands of hard-working families in Massachusetts struggling to make ends meet,” the Greater Boston Latino Network said in a statement. “The report adds urgency to calls by GBLN and partners for new policies and initiatives that close the inequality gap and support job and wealth creation in Latino communities.”

“There’s a significant underrepresentation of Latinos in policy-making roles despite the fact that we have a large Latino population,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, a steering committee member of GBLN and executive director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “To see that there are other states that are doing better across demographic indicators leaves a lot to be desired for Massachusetts, a state that has traditionally prided itself in being inclusive and progressive.”

Discriminatory lending practices and rising rents contribute to the disparities, as well as networking opportunities and hiring practices, said Espinoza-Madrigal. “Latinos are often under-resourced and under-networked and these two forces of having more limited resources create an opportunity gap,” he said.

Moving forward, this analysis will continue to serve as a reminder to those in decision-making roles to do more for increasing equity.

“We have to continue being intentional about hiring, retaining and promoting Latinos in public sector and private sector positions,” said Espinoza-Madrigal. “We need to be deliberate and intentional about including a racial and economic justice analysis in our legislative and policy making decisions.”