Introduction: This study examines demographic and socioeconomic factors of racial/ethnic groups in New York City in 2006 – particularly the income rates of the Latino population.
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: For this study, the middle class refers to those population sectors that fall between $35,000—$59,999 and $ 60,000—$100,000 in annual personal income. Middle-class income earners account for approximately 25.7% of the total personal income. Almost one half of middle-class income earners were Non-Hispanic Whites in 2006. They were followed by Non-Hispanic Blacks and Latinos respectively. Middle-class income earners were predominantly U.S.-born or naturalized and had college educations. High-school educational attainment was sufficient in some cases to acquire lower middle class income status, but college graduates were more frequent in the upper middle class category. While Latinos are clearly present in the lower middle class segment of the city, they are less represented in the City’s upper middle class. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are the most successful groups. These two groups are distributed throughout the City’s boroughs, while Colombians and Ecuadorians are overwhelmingly concentrated in Queens.
Discussion: Education and citizenship are variables which heavily influence middle class attainment and they vary remarkably among the different Latino national groups. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are the strongest Latino middle class segments and this is, in all likelihood, linked to the fact that they are the City’s most numerous and oldest Latino nationalities. Their citizenship rates and educational attainment levels are, in general, greater than those of other groups. This does not mean that within the other national groups examined here there were not individuals who had acquired both citizenship and higher educational attainment levels. Some migrants arrived with college degrees from their countries of origin. However, the percentages of people who have acquired these were smaller than those found within Puerto Rican and Dominican communities, and this resulted in lower rates of presence within the City’s middle class.