In 2014, the nonprofit Hispanic Wealth Project (HWP) published its first report with the goal of tripling Hispanic household wealth in America by 2024. With the recent publication of its 2022 State of Hispanic Wealth Report, the organization acknowledges the challenges of meeting its goals—particularly due to rising inflation and low housing supply. Still, progress has been made.
The HWP was formed by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) in 2012 with the goal of closing the wealth gap between Latinos and non-Hispanic whites in America. The organization aims to triple median household wealth by 2024 based on the following four data points:
- Home ownership rate
- Hispanic employer firms
- Retirement account participation
- Total median household wealth
Let’s take a look at progress in each of these four domains.
Home ownership rate
For nearly a century, home ownership has been synonymous with the American dream. As the report states, it’s also the primary wealth creation vehicle for the middle class. Thus far, white Americans have acquired far more property than Latinos.
In 2013, 46.1% of Latinos owned their homes. The 2024 goal set by NAHREP is 50%. The most recent data shows that 48.4% of Latinos are now homeowners. While the organization says they’re on track to meet their goal, it comes with a caveat indicative of current economic realities: homes are a more lucrative yet less accessible asset (though more recent data suggest this is shifting).
As the report states,
Low housing inventory, rising interest rates, and affordability constraints pose threats to future homeownership growth.
Despite the challenging housing market, Latino home ownership increased by 14.7% since 2021 and the average annual equity gain jumped to $55,300 per borrower, doubling the gain from the prior year.
Still, Latino home ownership is 25.7% lower than non-Hispanic whites. Interestingly, that number drops to only 6.9% when comparing Latinos to whites under the age of 30.
Small businesses drive the American economy. There were 298,563 Latino employers in 2013. NAHREP aimed to drive this number up to 400,000 by 2024. As of the latest report, the number has increased significantly—346,836, up 4.6% since 2020—but they’re off their target overall.
For comparison’s sake, there are 33.2 million small businesses in America, a number that has dramatically increased since the late nineties (up from 15.4 million in 1997).
At the moment, 3% of Latino businesses have “scaled,” meaning they bring in an annual revenue of at least $1 million. NAHREP believes that increasing the number of Latino-owned businesses and ensuring access to capital, networks, and education are all primary concerns to help more of these companies scale in the future.
NAHREP is trying to help Latinos diversify their asset portfolio through real estate, of course, but also stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts. The latter hasn’t budged much since 2013—from 25.1% to 25.5%. Hitting the goal of 37% is highly unlikely.
This number actually tracks with Americans overall, however. A 2022 poll found that 44% of millennials and roughly a third of Boomers have no retirement savings at all. Inflation is also crushing Gen Z, who have almost no money to put into retirement savings right now.
In terms of diversifying assets, however, 29.9% of NAHREP members invest in cryptocurrencies, a much higher percentage than American adults overall (11%).
Adjusted to 2019 dollars, total median Latino household wealth was $15,150 in 2013. As of this report, it’s up to $36,050—a credible jump, though again, the $45,450 goal will be challenging to meet in just two years.
Interestingly, the HWP contrasts a recent report of US Latinos produced by The Latino Donor Collaborative, which marked their total economic output as $2.8 trillion in 2020—above the GDPs of both the UK and India. This number is up 65% from 2010. US Latinos also spend $1.84 trillion, more than the entire consumption markets of Canada or South Korea.
One possible reason is the overrepresentation of Latinos in service-industry jobs, especially during a time of pandemic shortages. As the authors of that report write,
Latinos have proven to be a tremendous source of resilience for the broader U.S. economy, even in the face of a one-in-a-century global crisis such as COVID-19. The performance of Latinos during the pandemic is exemplified by income data. From 2010 to 2020, Latinos enjoyed significantly higher wage and salary income growth than non-Latinos.
Though NAHREP might not hit all their targets, the organization noted that Latino wealth in America more than doubled in the last nine years. They also noted that “the wealth gap between Latinos and their non-Hispanic White counterparts remains substantial,” and that more diversified portfolios, especially when it comes to retirement savings, are necessary in order to close that gap.
The Latino Donor Collaborative authors shine a positive light on Latino growth in America. As they write,
If Latinos living in the United States were an independent country, the U.S. Latino GDP would be the fifth largest GDP in the world, larger even than the GDP of the United Kingdom, India or France.
They also note that during the pandemic, Latino real wage and salary incomes increased by 6.7 percent while non-Latino income actually shrunk by 1.1 percent. They attribute this increase to three factors: hard work, self-sufficiency, and optimism. Interestingly, US Latinos boast stronger health outcomes than non-Latinos, which is especially commendable considering that they traditionally have fewer healthcare resources available to them.
Looking into the future, the authors note that continued increases in income, population growth, and labor force growth will help US Latinos continue to thrive. They also note that home ownership—which, as noted in the first report, is especially strong with younger demographics— will play a key role in their continued economic growth. In summation, they write,
Strong Latino household formation is a gift to the U.S. economy that keeps on giving.
Hispanic Wealth Project also noted optimism as a driving factor in Latino economic growth. That said, they recommend the following steps for Latinos to find even more success:
- More investments in retirement funds
- A more diversified retirement portfolio—and more emphasis on stocks
- Broader education on financial opportunities in Latino communities, including investment properties
- Focus on saving for emergencies and better estate planning
As they conclude,
Through establishing both internal and external financial goals, embedding culturally relevant financial education, and creating spaces for individuals to mastermind around wealth creation, a movement can arise and have the ripple effects needed to make significant leaps toward bridging the wealth gap in America.