Long Beach Latinos paid less despite working more

2019 report shows higher poverty, lower education and less digital access plague Latino community.


Courtesy Centro CHA & CSULB

Chart from the 2019 Long Beach Latino Economic Report released Oct. 18 at a CSULB summit showing Latino per-capita annual income at about $12,000 less than the overall average.

A 2019 snapshot of the Latino community in Long Beach reveals that while 79% of its 203,000 members are of Mexican heritage, 96% of those under 18 years are US-born and 74% of those 18 years and older are US citizens.

It shows that Long Beach Latinos contribute $34.3 billion to the regional Los Angeles County and Orange County economy, with $13.7 billion coming from Latino immigrants. And Latinos contribute 36% of federal, state and local tax revenues generated by all Long Beach households.

But the picture also reveals that though 70% of working-age Latinos contribute to the labor force compared to 63% of everyone else, 16.4% of Latino families live in poverty compared to 9.8% of other families.

Megan Anaya and Jessica Quintana of the Long Beach nonprofit Centro CHA, Inc., along with Cal State Long Beach professors Juan Benitez and Seiji Steimetz compiled these statistics from census and economic data for their 2019 Long Beach Latino Economic Report released at a CSULB summit on Oct. 18— an update to their first such report last year.

“Our 2019 update […] continues to serve as a vehicle to better understand, analyze, and address key economic, health and educational issues affecting Latinos in Long Beach,” the report states.

Specifically, the authors examine four main policy areas affecting the Long Beach Latino community, based on discussions of its initial 2018 data: economic inclusion, education gaps, health disparities and immigrant integration.

The 2019 report shows that, demographically, Latinos represent about 43% of the Long Beach population, residing most densely on the west side of the city, with nearly 9% living in multigenerational households compared to 3.5% of everyone else.

Most strikingly, the median family income for Long Beach Latinos is $52,200 per year, 34.8% less than the $80,000 median of other families. Per-capita income for a Latino worker is about $20,000 compared to $32,000 overall, the report states.

While Latinos represent a majority of workers in the service sector, as well as in construction, maintenance and transportation, they account for 23% of management, business, science and arts jobs compared with 48% of those of other ethnicities.

Latinos are also more susceptible to job loss during economic downturns, the report finds. A separate report by Anaya and Steimetz released last April, the 2019 Long Beach Regional Economic Update, shows that the types of jobs in which Latinos are most represented decreased between 2016 to 2017. That report also indicates wages in those same sectors are lower, though growing.

Education levels are also lower for Long Beach Latinos, the latest report finds, with 38% of those 25 years and over having less than a high-school education, compared to 10% of others in the same age group. Only 11% of Latinos in that age group hold a college degree compared to 26% of others.

Compounding the education and income gaps, Long Beach Latinos have less access to digital technology. Twenty-seven percent of Latino households in the city don’t have a laptop or desktop computer, compared to 17.4% of other households, relying instead on smartphones and tablets, the report shows.

67% of Long Beach Latinos live in rental housing, compared to nearly 58% of all others. And 16.3% of Latinos between 18 and 64 are also uninsured compared to 5.6% of everyone else.

The report thus highlights disparities for a significant population within Long Beach in the context of the city’s overall economic growth, which Mayor Robert Garcia called unprecedented during a Long Beach Regional Economic Forum at the Convention Center last April.

“Unemployment is the lowest it’s ever been recorded in the city,” Garcia said. “Development is the highest it’s ever been from an investment point of view than it’s ever been in the last 40 years.”

The Long Beach Latino economic summit and report findings bring specific attention to the Latino community— comprising 43.2% of Long Beach’s total population— 7th-District Councilmember Roberto Uranga said in his Oct. 18 newsletter.

“Throughout the summit, attendees had the opportunity to  decipher, discuss and produce ideas about ways in which public policy can help better serve our Long Beach Latino residents,” Uranga said, “further ensuring that all of our communities are prospering and continuing to succeed.”