Introduction: This study examines demographic and socioeconomic aspects of the Latino population of the New York City area in the year 2000.
Methods: Data on Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, reorganized for public use by the Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota, IPUMSusa. Cases in the dataset were weighted and analyzed to produce population estimates.
Results: Household income distribution data found in the 2000 U.S. census revealed a pattern of stark differentiation in New York City among the three principal racial/ethnic groups: Whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics or Latinos. Additionally, within the diverse Hispanic community there were sharp differences among national-origin Hispanic groups. Of particular importance is the compelling evidence that within each Hispanic national group there was a high degree of economic stratification. This is of great significance because of the tendency to generalize about “Puerto Ricans” or “Dominicans” etc. without taking into consideration the sharp class divisions found in these New York City Hispanic nationalities. Aggregated data from the five boroughs indicate that Hispanic households were among the city’s poorest, although there were clearly significant numbers of Latino households in upper income brackets. While nearly 19% of all White households earned under $15,000 yearly, over 31% of Hispanic households were in this category, slightly more than the nearly 29% of all African-American households.
Discussion: These data underscore the fact that it is difficult to draw general social or economic conclusions about the characteristics of New York City’s Hispanic community and its different national components. Stereotypical images of impoverishment may not be uniformly applied even in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Northern Manhattan, which have long been associated with poverty among Hispanic communities. Clearly poverty exists, and often on a pervasive scale. Yet, significant percentages of households earned over $50,000 annually throughout the city and even in the poorer boroughs. Thus, a clear class structure based on income currently exists among New York City’s Hispanic community and within the largest national groups.