How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Where do Latinos earn most - and least? More details from a new report

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Latinos in the Washington, D.C. metro area have the highest median household income among Latinos in the nation's top 60 metro areas with the biggest Latino populations; their lowest median household income is found in the Brownsville, Texas region.

Posts this week that have drawn on a Pew Hispanic Center report that's rich in detail have explored where Latinos in the United States live (the largest Latino population is in the L.A. area) and who they are (65 percent are of Mexican birth or descent), as well as which of the nation's metro regions have the most or least Latino U.S. citizens, fluent English speakers, high school graduates and degree holders.

And one important highlight: Contrary to some popular misperceptions, nearly three-fourths, or 74 percent, of all Latinos in the nation are U.S. citizens, either by birth or by naturalization. 

Hand in hand with these dynamics go economic factors, so let's take a look at those in this third and final installment. As with the factors that yesterday's post explored, there are stark differences here between some of the nation's 60 most heavily Latino cities and regions, from Los Angeles on down.

Household income: Texas boasts some of the metro regions with the most English-fluent Latinos and the most native-born Latino U.S. citizens, but it also has some of the nation's worst-paid Latinos. In the Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito metro area, the median household income among Latinos in 2010 was $28,600, the lowest among the 60 regions ranked. Among the top ten cities with the largest Latino populations, where Latinos earn least (a median household income of $35,600) is Phoenix, Arizona. 

Meanwhile, Latinos earn the most in the Washington, D.C. metro area ($62,000), followed by Baltimore ($56,400). Still, in nine of the nation's top ten metro areas with the biggest Latino populations, Latinos' median household income on average - $40,000 a year - falls behind that of the general population's $49,800. The only exception in the top ten list is San Francisco, where Latinos' median household income is $55,000. They also fare best in San Francisco in terms of sheer personal earnings, as opposed to household income.

Poverty: Not surprisingly, the metro regions where Latinos earn least lead in Latino poverty rates. The Brownsville, Texas metro region has the highest rate of poverty among both Latinos in general (40 percent) and Latino children (51 percent.) It is the only one of the 60 metro areas ranked that has a Latino child poverty rate of more than 50 percent. Among the top ten regions, Phoenix has the highest poverty rate (28 percent); one-third (34 percent) of Latino children under 18 lives below the poverty line in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore have the lowest rate of poverty among Latinos.

Homeownership: In spite of high Southern California real estate prices in comparison to other parts of the country, Latinos in Riverside are tied with those in San Antonio (at 58 percent) as the most likely to own a home in the nation's top ten largest Latino population areas. Both regions are topped by McAllen, Texas, however, where 68 percent of Latinos live in their own homes. Perhaps not surprisingly, New York - followed by Los Angeles and San Francisco - have the lowest rates of Latino homeownership. 

Health insurance: In all of the nation's top ten Latino metro areas, the share of Latinos withouth health insurance is significantly larger than among the general population. In Los Angeles, for example, 33 percent of adult Latinos have no health insurance, compared with 22 percent of adult Angelenos in general. There are much bigger numbers of uninsured Latinos in other cities. In Atlanta, Georgia, 51 percent of the Latino population is uninsured. The biggest share of uninsured Latino children is found in Salt Lake City, Utah (28 percent).

The lowest share of uninsured Latinos (11 percent) is found in the Boston metro area; only 2 percent of Latino children there lack coverage. (Massachusetts has a state-controlled health insurance program that mandates minimal coverage for residents, and also provides free care to the the very poor.) Among the top ten regions, the lowest share of uninsured Latinos is found in San Francisco, where 24 percent of the adult Latino population lacks health insurance. But that's still higher than among the region's general population, which has an uninsured rate of 13 percent.

The Pew report has a good at-a-glace chart comparing these and other factors in different metro regions. The complete report can be downloaded here.

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