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Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Earn Less Money and Pay More for Housing

Puerto Ricans in the United States bring home less money than the general population as a whole, but they also have to pay more for their housing. Out of 449,377 Puerto Rican homeowners with a mortgage, 48.5 percent spend more than 30 percent of their income on mortgage costs while 38 percent of the population as a whole pay more than 30 percent.

Puerto Ricans nationally have to do more with less,” said Carlos Vargas-Ramos, research associate at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. “Their burden is higher than for the population as a whole.”
Puerto Ricans have the lowest rate of homeownership when compared to other groups.

For those who own homes, the median monthly costs of owning their homes are also higher: $1,651 for Puerto Ricans and $1,496 for the population as a whole.

They also spend more for rentals, which is the primary housing market for Puerto Ricans. Costs are higher for Puerto Ricans who rent, $890, than for the total population, which is $855.

This is according to a new fact sheet released by Centro’s Data Center titled Puerto Ricans in the U.S., 2010, which focuses on the socio-economic conditions of stateside Puerto Ricans. This report is part of a Centro series designed to provide up-to-date information that uses the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2010. The survey provides data based on a one-year-cycle.

Throughout its nearly forty-year history, Centro has spotlighted critical data about the Puerto Rican stateside community and disseminated the information to academic, advocacy, and community-based groups.
“We hope to contribute to policy debates and to the general awareness about the Puerto Rican community in the U.S. by providing and making more accessible reliable data on Puerto Ricans that do not always see the light of day,” said Vargas-Ramos who coordinates the work at Centro’s Data Center.

Here are some other highlights of the financial picture of Puerto Ricans in the United States:

• There were 1,445,837 Puerto Rican households. Puerto Ricans have significantly lower incomes than the U.S. population as a whole. In 2010, the total median household income in the U.S. was $50,046. Among Puerto Ricans, it was 31 percent lower, $36,558.

• This disparity is also evident in per capita income. Puerto Ricans reported a third less income, $16,568, than the population as a whole, $26,059.

• In the United States as a whole, 78 percent of households reported earning income, and the average income earned for these households was $69,506. It was 20 percent lower, $55,558, among the 77 percent of Puerto Rican households that reported such income. Puerto Ricans also reported lower Social Security income than the general population.

• Given this lower rate of income, Puerto Ricans turned to other sources of income to compensate for the disparity. Thirty percent of Puerto Ricans reported receiving food stamps, compared to 20 percent among other Latinos and 12 percent for the population as a whole. More Puerto Ricans, 8 percent, also relied on public assistance income than the population as a whole, 3 percent.

The need for supplemental income is evident. Nationally, Puerto Ricans reported the largest proportion of families living below the poverty level, 24 percent, and the second highest rate of poverty among all people, compared to the total population. Poverty is greatest among Puerto Rican families headed by a woman, particularly those with children under five years old.

One area in which Puerto Ricans are overrepresented is in unemployment, with a rate of 10 percent as compared with 6.9 percent of the general population.

Puerto Ricans are also overrepresented at more than double the rate for the country as a whole among those serving in the Armed Forces.
As far as education, Puerto Ricans are notably overrepresented among those who have less than a high school education, 25 percent, and those underrepresented among those who have a college degree or higher level, 16 percent.

On a positive note, Puerto Ricans who graduate high school or have earned an associate’s degree have earnings almost as much to the population as a whole.

To view the report on socioeconomic conditions:

Puerto Ricans in the U.S. http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/data_sheets/USSocioEconomicprofile2-27-12(2010correct)singlepg.pdf

In addition, Centro is releasing data on socioeconomic conditions at the state level for Puerto Ricans in New York (2010) and Florida (2009).

New York: http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/data_sheets/NYSocioEco2-27-12(singlepg).pdf

Florida: http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/data_sheets/Puerto_Ricans_in_Florida_Socioeconomic_conditions2-27-2012(singlepg).pdf