News Release

NCLR Report Shows California Latinos Have Made Economic Progress

Yet Inequities Persist and Continued Progress Hinges on Future Policies

January 30, 2017

Camila Gallardo
(305) 215-4259

LOS ANGELES—Today, representatives of NCLR (National Council of La Raza) were joined by community and business leaders at a morning panel discussion where NCLR shared findings from its new report: “Latinos in the Golden State: An Analysis of Economic and Demographic Trends.” This report examines the impact Latinos have on the state’s economy, factors that contribute to progress or have stalled growth among California Hispanics, and recommendations for state- and national-level policies to help improve outcomes. The nation’s second minority-majority state, California is home to nearly 15 million Latinos according to 2015 Census figures, and that growth is expected to continue. As California has often served as a preview and model for how to leverage demographic shifts for economic progress, “Latinos in the Golden State” provides critical insight for how other states can advance workers’ economic mobility by focusing on the contributions of Latinos.

“Latinos continue to play a key role in driving California’s economic growth. The state has an economic engine larger than several Central American countries combined, which is why it is paramount that we address some of the persisting wealth inequities,” said Delia de la Vara, NCLR Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Development and Affiliate Engagement. “Now is the time for California policymakers to shore up the progress that Latinos have made since the recession, while continuing to remove barriers and opening the doors for greater economic opportunity for the community and all Americans.”

The report’s findings paint a mixed picture of progress as it pertains to Californians’ economic security. Some bright spots for many Latinos in the state include an increase in median household income, up $5,305 from 2011 to 2015, and a decline in poverty of 2.4 percentage points during the same period. Analysis indicates that labor force participation is particularly strong. Latinos lead the state in workforce participation, 64.7 percent compared to 62.2 percent for the overall state population, and by 2014, Hispanic purchasing power in California grew to $320 billion.

Despite these gains, Hispanics in the state continue to experience setbacks and longstanding inequities that have affected not only their own economic well-being, but their ability to contribute even more fully to the state’s and nation’s economic progress. Many Hispanics remain outside of the financial mainstream, with 14.8 percent of Latino households unbanked and 26.9 percent underbanked, a stark contrast when compared to White households—1.7 percent and 13.7 percent, respectively. Additionally, Latinos in California lag behind in retirement savings—only 39 percent had access to a work retirement savings plan and less than one-third of those were participating. NCLR supports the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program, now in its implementation phase after being signed into law in 2016. This program will provide retirement access to the 7.5 million Californians—half of whom are Latino—who do not currently have a plan through their workplace and it will connect Latino workers to retirement savings opportunities.

“As one of NCLR’s nearly 300 community-based Affiliates, we work every day to promote economic access, opportunity and security for low-income and low-wealth Latinas and their families in the Los Angeles area,” noted Maggie Cervantes, Executive Director of NEW Economics for Women. “Given the current political climate, NEW is doubling down on our efforts to stabilize, educate and grow family stability for all members of our communities. We look forward to working with policymakers, NCLR and other allies in the state to build momentum for broader asset protection and clamp down on predatory financial products as key tools to expand Latino economic prosperity.”

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

This report was made possible through generous support from The Prudential Foundation and the Citi Foundation. The views and conclusions expressed here are those of NCLR alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of our funders.