August 27, 2004

Census Report: More Hispanics Are Living in Poverty, Uninsured; Latinos Only Group with Falling Average Incomes

Washington, D.C. -- The Census Bureau today released new estimates of the number of Americans living in poverty, average incomes, and the number of uninsured. The report shows that last year the number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.4 million and the number of uninsured Americans increased by 1.4 million. That is the third straight year of increases for both categories.

While annual average incomes remained flat, incomes for Hispanics dropped by 2.6 percent, the only group whose incomes fell last year.

There were a total of 35.8 million people in the United States living below the poverty line in 2003, 9.1 million of whom are Latinos. Also, the number of people without health insurance nationwide went up by 1.4 million, to a total of 45 million Americans, 13.2 million of whom are Hispanic.

"Today's report is bad news for Hispanic families," said Congressman Ciro D. Rodríguez (D-TX), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "Too many in our community have lost their jobs and lost their health insurance. Average weekly earnings are stagnant, and household income decreased by 2.6 percent for Hispanics to $32,997. Families are working harder for less, even as the Bush tax breaks for corporate interests increases the tax burden on middle class families. And, because of this week's new Bush overtime regulations, 6 million workers won't even be able to get their hard earned overtime pay."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said: "The Census Bureau statistics announced today are a sobering reminder of the human costs of President Bush's reckless tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans - his economic mismanagement is pushing more Americans into poverty, stalling family incomes, and leaving more Americans without health insurance," she said. "In the face of overwhelming evidence that their policies are hurting the American people, President Bush and the Republicans in Congress stubbornly insist that we must stay the course and make permanent tax cuts for those who need them least. Americans deserve better, and Democrats have a better plan."

Democrats want to create jobs, by replacing tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs with incentives to keep jobs here at home, targeted tax cuts for the middle class, and investments in education, research and development, and transportation. Democrats also want to lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses through a new tax credit, extend health insurance coverage to 7.5 million parents through Medicaid and CHIP, and help older Americans who can't afford to purchase health insurance to buy into Medicare.

"Democrats want to create jobs by replacing tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs with incentives to keep jobs here at home, by making targeted tax cuts for the middle class, and by making investments in education, research and development, and transportation," Pelosi said. "We want to lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses through a new tax credit. The choice is clear - between the Republican policies that are making life harder for those who are struggling to make ends meet, or the Democrats' plan to help hard-working Americans join the middle class."

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