Current Demographic Overview of Latinos in Oregon
In 2005, Latinos were the second-largest population group in Oregon, about 9.9 percent of the total population of 3,700,758. Latino children were about 15 percent of the population under age 18 in the state in 2005, but that is likely to increase. During 2005, Latino births were 20 percent of the total births in Oregon. The growth of the Latino population has been sustained since the 1990s, particularly in rural areas, where census undercount is more prevalent. Although Oregon’s urban population is growing, a quarter of all Oregonians still live in nonmetropolitan areas.
In some counties, the Latino population increased more than 100 percent in the past decade. Many of these Latinos are foreign born, mostly from Mexico. The resulting demographic and cultural impacts have been enormous. For example, in 2007 Hood River County schools 39 percent of the students were Latino, and in the Woodburn School District 70 percent of the students were Latino. As of 2005, Latino workers in Oregon could find year-round employment in the agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and service sectors. Many are quite mobile within a
very narrow band of occupations something that mirrors the situation of the Latino workforce in other states. At the same time, in 2002 Latinos owned 2.1 percent of Oregon firms, up from 0.5 in 1997.
The poverty rate for Latinos in Oregon is 34 percent, compared to 14 percent for non-Latino whites. Latino workers earn 64 percent of the average non-Latino white workers’ earnings in Multnomah County. Latinos are younger the median age of Latinos in Oregon is 22.8 years, compared to 38.3 years for non-Latino whites and less educated than non-Latino whites. Many live in low-income households Latino median family income is $31,355, compared to the $50,079 median family income of non-Latino white households.
Despite having one of the country’s best economies and the second-highest minimum wage, Oregon has a high percentage of hungry people. In 2002 an estimated 40 percent of Latinos in the state lived in food-insecure households. Food-insecure households are those households that sometimes are on the verge of running out of money for food. Help from other resources such a family, friends, food banks, and government is not available or is not enough to assure that these families avoid hunger. However, 72 percent of working-age Latino adults in food-insecure homes were employed in 2001 and 2002, compared to 56 percent of the non-Latino adults in food-insecure homes.
In Oregon, Latino children are more likely to live in low-income families: 71 percent of Latino children live in low-income families, compared to 34 percent of white children (nationally, 62 percent of Latino children live in low-income families). Similarly, 68 percent of children of migrant parents in Oregon live in low-income families, compared to 36 percent of children of native-born parents. Almost half of all children in low-income families live in rural areas. Particularly for the poor, the availability of infant and toddler care, and care for children with special needs is very limited in communities throughout the state.
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