WASHINGTON, DC — The White House on Wednesday touted gains Hispanics have made in education, income and health insurance during President Barack Obama’s time in office.
In a report released to mark the closing days of Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Saturday, the White House issued a four-page brief from its Council on Economic Advisers on the Hispanics’ economic progress in the Obama years.
Obama marked the close of Hispanic Heritage month with remarks at a White House reception Wednesday afternoon. Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and closes on Saturday.
"Over the last eight years we have made a lot of progress, together for all Americans and nowhere have you been able to see more vividly the progress than in the Hispanic American community," Obama said at the event.
According to the report, Hispanics saw the fastest income growth of any racial or ethnic group, the largest decline in the poverty rate and “substantial” gains in insurance coverage. Hispanics also have seen high school graduation rates and bachelor’s degree attainment each raise 5 percent.
The White House attributed the gains to policies enacted when he took office to pull the nation out of the Great Recession, enactment of the Affordable Care Act and increases in investments in all levels of education.
“Many of the president’s policies, along with determination and hard work of the Hispanic community have contributed to these substantial improvements in economic outcomes,” the White House report states.
“More work needs to be done to continue strengthening economic growth and ensuring that all Americans can share in that growth, including addressing the continued gaps that Hispanic Americans face in employment and opportunity," the report states.
Obama was introduced by Roxana Giron, a home care worker, at the White House reception Wednesday. She is involved in an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. According to Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute about 440,000 are Latinos and 550,000 are immigrants.
Giron, an immigrant, said before introducing Obama that she cares for three veterans and also her two daughters, 22 and 19, who have developmental disabilities.
"Thanks to President Obama, home care workers now have minimum wage and overtime pay protection, undoing decades of unfair policy. Because of Obamacare my daughters have the medicine they need. They have the health care they need. The Affordable Care Act has been a tremendous blessing for me and my family," Giron said.
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has said in rallies and in the recent debate that government has failed African Americans and Hispanics because they live in poverty and violence. His descriptions have been criticized for overlooking Latino and African American achievements and gains.
Here are more details that the White House reported on Hispanics’ well-being:
— The Hispanic unemployment rate, 6.4 percent, has been cut by more than half from its Great Recession Peak of 13 percent in August 2009.
- Income for Hispanic households in 2015 was up 6.1 percent over 2014. That made the median household income of Hispanic households in 2015 $41,150. That is a 7.9 percent increase in real terms - which corrects for inflation – over 2009.
- The uninsured rate for Hispanics ages 18-64 fell by 11.3 percentage points, meaning 4 million Hispanics gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
- In 2016, 3.4 million Hispanic students are enrolled in college – 800,000 more than in 2009 or a 30 percent increase.
- The number of Hispanic infants and toddlers in Early Head Start has nearly doubled since 2008.
- Hispanic men participate in the work force at a rate of 80.4 percent, 8.4 percentage points higher than the comparable participation rate for all men.
- Hispanic women participate in the labor force at a rate of 58.9 percent, slightly above the rate for all women of 58.4 percent.
- The poverty rate for Hispanics in 2015 was 21.4 percent.
- Hispanic children are 38 percent of the participants in Head Start and about half of Hispanic children under 5 years old, 2.6 million, are receiving educational support through the Race to the Top – Early Challenge grants.