Interactive Map: Economic Fortunes of Different Hispanic Groups Vary Widely

Colleen O'Dea | July 14, 2017 | Map of the Week, Maps
NJ’s Hispanic population grows but new census data reveal wide disparities in income, poverty, health insurance

New Jersey’s growing Hispanic population is a diverse group of nearly 1.8 million people whose economic fortunes vary greatly by both ancestry and current residence, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.

Selected population tables released yesterday by census officials provide data on 416 specific population groups including Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and others along with detailed information on education, income, housing, and dozens of other topics that the bureau provides for the entire population. Disseminated only every five years, they present snapshots of specific racial and ethnic groups that provide details that would be otherwise unknown.

New Jersey’s Hispanic population, the state’s second largest racial or ethnic group, has continued to grow, with that growth helping to fuel the state’s small population increase; the number of Hispanics rose by 15 percent between 2010 and 2016, while New Jersey’s total population inched up by less than 2 percent. One in five New Jerseyans is Hispanic.

The new census data show that New Jersey’s Hispanics are not one large ethnic group, but people with roots in more than a dozen countries. Each group has characteristics that set it apart and each has been faring somewhat differently from the others in post-recession New Jersey.

Puerto Ricans are the state’s largest Hispanic group, numbering about 471,000 or more than a quarter of all Latinos. Dominicans and Cubans have some of the oldest roots in the state, while Dominicans are the second largest Hispanic group in the state and the fastest growing, registering a population increase of 35 percent since 2010.

Of the 10 countries to which most of New Jersey’s Hispanics trace their roots, Cubans had the highest median household income over the 2011-2015 period (reported in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars) at $60,212. The lowest median income of $40,755 is estimated for those from the Dominican Republic. Hispanics’ median household income lagged significantly behind that of non-Hispanic whites, who had a median income of $82,102 during the same period.

While similar to median income, poverty data paint a somewhat different picture of the fortunes of Hispanic groups. Colombians were least likely to be living below the federal poverty level, with a poverty rate of 11 percent, while three in 10 Mexicans were considered poor statewide with the percentage as high as 41 percent in Cape May County.

Peruvians had the lowest rate of unemployment (7.8 percent), while Puerto Ricans had the highest rate (12.4 percent).

All the Hispanic groups fared far worse than non-Hispanic whites in the state in having health insurance. The uninsurance rates ranged from 11.3 percent for Cubans to almost 44 percent for Mexicans. Some 6.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were not insured during the same period.

While New Jersey’s Hispanic groups typically lagged non-Hispanic whites on all economic measures, they tended to fare somewhat better than their peers across the country in most measures, except health insurance, where the differences varied based on ancestry. For instance, more than 20 percent of Cubans nationally did not have health insurance, a rate that was almost twice as bad as for New Jersey’s Cubans. But about 28 percent of Mexicans across the country were not insured, about 16 percentage points better than New Jersey’s Mexican population.