Latinos face an ever-growing racial wealth gap, making entry into the middle class increasingly difficult. The Great Recession had a staggeringly negative impact on Latino household wealth—during the period from 2005 to 2009, 66% of Latino household wealth disappeared—positioning Latinos as the group with the largest wealth decline during the recession. The racial wealth gap has only continued to widen, with White household wealth at more than 10 times that of Latino households in 2013.
Efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit have exacerbated this trend by placing a disproportionate amount of deficit reduction measures on the shoulders of lower-income families and shortchanging the investments our economy needs in order to grow. In addition to changing our approach to the federal budget, various economic policies have the potential to improve the economic standing and quality of life for Latinos. Improving labor conditions, ensuring workers receive the pay they deserve, providing greater pathways to homeownership, closing the digital divide, improving retirement security, and protecting consumers from fraud and predatory financial practices, are all important paths to enhancing the economic status of Latinos and growing the nation’s middle class.