A Vibrant and Growing Population
Given the history of our state, it is not surprising to note that Latinos account for every 1 in 3 Central Texans, or nearly 1 million people, the largest ethnic group in the region. Younger Latinos make up even larger portions of their age groups: 43% of Central Texas youth and 64% of working-age adults (19-64 years old) are Latino. By 2050, Latinos are projected to be the largest ethnic group in Central Texas, slightly surpassing the white demographic[i].
The Wealth Divide
Latinos in the Austin Metropolitan Area face deep economic inequality. In the city, the poverty rate for Latinos (18.2%) is more than quadruple the rate for white Austinites (3.8%) and 26% of Latino households have zero net worth, meaning the value of all household assets is less than or equal to household debts, compared to 15% of white households[ii].
Ensuring access to and readiness for early childhood education is key to improving the long-term academic outcomes for all Central Texans. Kindergarten readiness is a measure used to describe having well-developed preschool skills. That is, being academically, socially, emotionally, and physically ready for transitioning into a formal learning environment. Today, less than half of Latino children entering kindergarten in Central Texas are deemed “kindergarten ready” at the start of the school year and low-income children with pre-K are almost 3 times more likely to be kindergarten ready than those without pre-K[iii,iv].
Access to affordable, preventative health care is another key factor in helping families face unexpected health crises. In Central Texas, 22% of Latinos are uninsured, the highest rate of uninsured of any ethnic group, and one in four working-age Latino adults have no primary healthcare provider.
From Latino-owned businesses, art, food, and music—the rich heritage and legacy of Latinos has long shaped our community and plays an essential role in creating a thriving Central Texas. Yet, as our region flourishes, Latinos are often left behind. If we can acknowledge and understand the historical structures and systemic barriers causing the health and economic disparities demonstrated by the data, we can begin to advance Latino futures and create a more equitable Central Texas.
Note on terminology: The authors of the report acknowledge that while there is substantial diversity in cultures, countries of origin and birth, and native language encapsulated in the term Latino, there is a need to measure the shared experiences. This report uses the term Latino for individuals of Latin descent but acknowledges that individuals may more closely identify as Hispanic, Latinx, or Tejano.
[i] Texas Demographic Center, Population for 2010-2050 in 1-year increments for State of Texas and Counties (2018 Data), https://demographics.texas.gov/Data/TPEPP/Projections/#asrePop
[ii] Prosperity Now, Racial Wealth Divide in Austin, February 2019, https://www.austincf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/RacialWealthDivide-Profile-Austin.pdf
[iii] E3 Alliance, Assessing Kindergarten Readiness, https://data.e3alliance.org/static/slides/SchoolReadiness/Slide17.PNG?v=761
[iv] E3 Alliance, Low Income Kindergartners with Pre-K Experience Nearly 3 Times as Likely to be Ready for School, https://data.e3alliance.org/static/slides/SchoolReadiness/Slide36.PNG?v=784
[v] U.S. States Census Bureau, 5 Year Estimates, 2019 data for 2015-2019 estimates
[vi] Pew Research Center, Hispanic Trends, http://www.pewhispanic.org/2008/08/13/hispanicsand-health-care-in-theunited-states-access-information-and-knowledge/
A report commissioned by Austin Community Foundation’s Hispanic Impact Fund, in collaboration with consultants from designEDengagement, PBC, emphasizes that while Central Texas has seen rapid population growth and economic development, many Latinos are left out of much of this booming economy and the opportunities it presents. This report sheds light on the challenges facing Latino families and the opportunities to support solutions to close the wealth and health divides.