By Yuqi Wang, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy Project
Overall, Latino voters have a positive outlook on the national economy, with 68% saying the economy is improving or has remained the same. At the same time, their personal finances are sometimes uncertain, with 46% saying it was sometimes difficult each month to make ends meet.
While Latino voters are optimistic about the state and future of the economy, there is a high level of insecurity about both their short- and long-term financial well-being. The community’s top concerns reflect this dynamic—Latino voters said the three economic issues that a new president and Congress must address are job creation, student debt, and Social Security.
One of the issues contributing to Latino voters’ feelings of insecurity and apprehension is the sustainability of the Social Security program. Seventy-three percent of voters are worried that Social Security will not be around when they retire. Contrary to popular wisdom, Latino millennial voters (age 18–35) are among those who are most concerned: 87% of millennial voters worry about the longevity of the Social Security program.
The projected future shortfalls of the Social Security program are especially troubling for Latinos because half of all Latino retirees rely on Social Security for 90% of their income. This over-reliance on Social Security is because 60% of Latinos work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan. Moreover, Latinos who have access to a plan at work do not participate at the same levels as their non-Latino counterparts. Thus, Social Security represents an important safety net for aging Latino workers and lifted almost a third of Latino retirees from poverty in 2014.
Given the tremendous impact the program has on the ability of Latino retirees to enjoy their retirement, it’s not surprising that 98% of polled Latino voters want the next president and Congress to address ways to keep Social Security strong. Yet, with Election Day next Tuesday, the presidential candidates have offered little details about their plans for Social Security. There is still time, however, to let the candidates know that we deserve concrete answers on this, and we are waiting for them to take a stand for retiring Americans.
With a growing Latino electorate, it will be harder and harder for politicians to win the Latino vote without first deeply engaging with the community and addressing their worries, fears, and aspirations. As we get closer to electing a new administration and Congress, NCLR will be looking forward to working with policymakers who understand that a more prosperous America is one that incorporates Latino priorities.