Florida's growing Latino population faces mixed progress, study shows

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PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
One of out every four Floridians is Latino, and while this population has made some progress in the Sunshine State, it still remains behind other groups in terms of wealth, according to a new report. 

Several key takeaways the National Council of La Raza found in its study: 



- A higher percentage of Latinos are in the labor force, almost 64 percent, compared to the overall state population at a near 61 percent. The unemployment rate for Latinos is pretty much the same as the rest of the state, around 5 percent. 

- The median Latino household income is $40,903, which is $6,560 less the overall state median household income of $47,463. The poverty rate for Latinos is almost 22 percent compared to close to 17 percent for the state. 



- The number of Latino-owned business increased by 34 percent from 2007 to 2012, generating close to $89.7 million in gross receipts. 

- The number of Latinos with a bachelor's degree or higher increased by almost 22 percent, surpassing the increase for entire state at close to 14 percent. In 2014, 669,459 Latinos had a bachelor's degree or more, up from 549,190 in 2010. 

- In 2011, the median net worth for Latino families in Florida was $6,337, compared to $53,986 in the overall state and $100,370 for white Floridian families. 

The study uses the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of Latino/Hispanic, which refer to persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, Dominican, Spanish and other Hispanic descent, of any race.

"Growth of the Latino population in Florida has been fueled by a recent migration of individuals and families leaving Puerto Rico in hopes of finding increased economic stability amid the fiscal crisis of the commonwealth," the report says. "The characteristics of the Puerto Rican population recently moving to Florida will have an effect on the overall economic status of the state. Puerto Rican migrants are U.S. citizens and are eligible for all services and programs offered." 

The study recommended several solutions that could help Latinos in Florida and probably everyone else, including: raising the state minimum wage, closing the state Medicaid gap and keeping rent affordable. 

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