Low Plaza

TC's Rivera-Batiz Reports Mexicans are NYC's Fastest Growing Ethnic Group; Face Economic Challenges

Francisco Rivera-Batiz

New data from the U.S. Census reveal that Mexicans are New York City's fastest growing ethnic group. New York City's Mexican population ranked 11th among major U.S. cities in 2000, at 186,872. This number rivals the size of long-standing Mexican communities like San Diego, Santa Ana and San Jose, California. Yet, the data also show that the City's Mexican inhabitants face serious social and economic challenges, according to a study recently released by Teachers College.

Using information from the 2000 U.S. Census of Population, the study finds that the average per-capita income of the Mexican population is among the lowest in New York City. The mean household income per-capita of Mexican New Yorkers was $10,231, or less than half of the prevailing average of $22,402 for all New Yorkers in 1999. Close to one-third of Mexicans lived in households that were under the poverty line in 2000, more than double the poverty rate in the City overall.

Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, professor of economics and education at Teachers College and a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, authored the report, entitled "The State of New York Titlan: A Socioeconomic Profile of Mexican New Yorkers."

The report also reveals a link between low income and educational attainment. It shows that on average, Mexicans in New York complete approximately nine years of schooling, compared to thirteen years for New Yorkers overall. In addition, Mexican teenagers have the lowest high school retention rates in New York.

Although the per-capita income of Mexicans is low by New York City standards, the income that Mexican immigrants receive often represents a significant increase over what they could have earned in Mexico, according to the report. Average household income per person in the state of Puebla, Mexico, is approximately 40 percent of that for the average Mexican household in New York. And in the rural communities of Puebla, where many Mexican New Yorkers originate, the average income per capita often lies below $1,000 per year.

Rivera-Batiz, emphasizes that the comparison of the social and economic situation of Mexican New Yorkers with that of other groups in the City is highly relevant. "Many Mexicans residing in New York today will remain in the City for a long time, if not a lifetime. As a result, their economic well-being and that of their children is linked to New York," he says. "The challenges faced by Mexicans in New York, in the areas of education, labor and working conditions, as well as in the immigration area, must be seriously considered by policymakers. Ignoring them would undermine the valuable contributions that are being made by Mexicans to the City."

Published: Oct 06, 2003
Last modified: Oct 03, 2003

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