Latino registered voters have grown more optimistic about the country’s direction since 2011. According to the Pew Hispanic survey, 45% of Latino registered voters say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction today, up from 36% in 20117 and 27% in 2008.8 This trend mirrors that seen among all registered voters. Among them, overall, 28%9say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction, up from 15% in 2011.10
In the past year, the unemployment rate among Latinos, and all Americans, has fallen. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for Latinos, the unemployment rate declined from 11.3% in the third quarter of 2011 to 10.2% in the third quarter of 2012. In September 2012, the unemployment rate among Latinos was 9.9%. This was the lowest rate since December 2008, but still higher than the national unemployment rate of 7.8%.
Among Latino registered voters, half (52%) of those who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party are satisfied with the nation’s direction, compared with one-quarter (26%) of those who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party.
Latino registered voters who say they their personal finances are in “excellent” or “good” shape are also more upbeat about the way things are going in the country compared with those who say their financial situation is “only fair” or “poor”—51% versus 40%.
Improving Personal Finances
Latino registered voters’ assessments of their current financial situation have improved since 2011. According to the new survey, 42% of Latino registered voters say their personal financial situation is either “excellent” or “good,” compared with 31% who said so in 2011 (Lopez, Gonzalez-Barrera and Motel, 2011).
At the same time, the gap between Latino registered voters and all registered voters on their financial assessments has closed. Today, 48% of all registered voters say their current financial situation is “excellent” or “good,” six percentage points higher than that of Latino registered voters. By contrast, in 2011, there was an 11 percentage point gap between all registered voters and Latino registered voters who had positive assessments of their personal financial situation (42% versus 31%).
Among Hispanic registered voters, demographic differences exist in their personal financial assessments. For example, Hispanic males rate their personal financial situation better than Hispanic females—48% “excellent” or “good” versus 37%. In addition, Hispanic registered voters with college experience rate their financial situation better than those with lower levels of education. Some 53% of those with at least some college and 38% of those with no more than a high school diploma rate their personal finances as “excellent” or “good.” Meanwhile, only 16% of Latinos with less than a high school diploma rate their current financial situation in positive terms.
Among Latino registered voters, bilingual Latinos and those who are English dominant rate their financial situation better than those who primarily speak Spanish—50% and 44%, respectively, say their personal financial situation is in “excellent” or “good” shape versus 17% among the Spanish dominant.
Confidence in their Future Financial Situation
Even though fewer than half of Hispanic registered voters (42%) say their financial situation is currently “excellent” or “good,” they are optimistic about their financial future. Seven-in-ten Hispanic registered voters (70%) believe their financial situation and that of their family will improve in the next year. The general public shares this optimism, with 66% saying they expect their own financial situation and that of their family to improve in the coming year.
Among Latino registered voters, there are some differences of perceptions of finances in the next year by party identification. Democrats are more optimistic about their future financial situation than Republicans—75% versus 58%.