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More Latino Kids In Low-Income But More Financially Stable Households

Although they are more likely to be poor than other children, Hispanic children in low-income households have had more economically stable homes.
This photo taken July 21, 2014 shows students in Jane Cornell's summer school class learn story telling skills at Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center in Kennett Square, Pa. For the first time ever _ U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students enrolled than white, a shift largely fueled by growth in the numbers of Hispanic children. Matt Rourke / AP file

Although they are more likely to be poor than other children, Hispanic children in low-income households have had more economically stable homes.

But the Great Recession took some toll on the earnings in these low-income families, as well as children in higher-income earning households, according to "Child Trends" reports from the National Research Center for Hispanic Children and Families.

The center examined different issues regarding the economics of Hispanic children and their families. Their findings on the economic stability of the children’s households from 2004 to 2006, the effects of the Great Recession on Hispanic households and children and the low use of government-subsidized programs by Hispanic families were issued in three separate studies released Monday.

Hispanic children were twice as likely as non-Hispanic children to live in households with annual incomes of less than $24,000, the lowest income bracket. But the earnings of those households were more stable and researchers suggested that could be because parents are working long hours or have multiple part-time jobs.

“On one hand, stable earnings and less reliance on social assistance income may bode well for Latino children, particularly if associated with broader family stability, even if at low overall income,” Lisa Gennetian, author of these briefs and program head for the Hispanic Center’s Poverty Reduction and Self-Sufficiency research area. said in a news release. “On the other hand, stable chronic poverty is not good for children.”

Because one in four children in the U.S. are Latino and by 2050 one in three are projected to be, their economic state has significant implications for the U.S. economy and its social well being.

Some key findings:

– The income gap between high-income and low-income Hispanic children narrowed after the Great Recession, largely because of downward shifts for higher and middle income children.

– Although the number of children in lower-income households stayed the same, the average monthly income for these children fell after the Great Recession.

– Spanish speaking households, where no one over 14 spoke English, saw greater income instability in the period after the Great Recession.

– Hispanics were more likely to cite immigration status as a reason for not using public assistance programs, even if they were eligible.

Some 5.7 million Hispanic children live in poverty, more than any other racial or ethnic group.

The Great Recession had some impact on how they are now faring. Although the share of the poorest Hispanic children has remained relatively the same, researchers found a smaller proportion of Hispanic children in households at the top income level after the recession, from 2008 to 20111, compared to before it, in the years 2004 to 2006. And there was growth in the share of children in the income level just above the lowest income level, the researchers found.

In addition, researchers found a wider income inequality gap – a 20-point difference – among Hispanic families than non-Hispanic families. About 27 percent of Hispanic children live in poverty and about 9 percent live in high-income households.

By comparison, 16 percent of non-Hispanic children live in poverty while about one fourth live in high-income households – a 9 percentage point difference.

The most common reason cited by poor and middle-income families of all races and ethnicities for not seeking public assistance was “don’t need any.” However, Hispanic parents were more likely than black parents to say that. White families were the most likely to say they didn’t need assistance.

The researchers found that 9 percent of naturalized citizens and more than a third of legal permanent residents thought they were ineligible for government assistance for immigration reasons.

“Our findings signal that immigration concerns have far-reaching consequences and may be hindering families who may be eligible and in need of services from obtaining them,” Marta Alvira-Hammond, lead author of the brief and senior research analyst at Child Trends said in a statement.

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