Nearly All Poor Latino Families in Oregon Are Poor Despite Work

Fact Sheet
October 29, 2014 Download PDF

Work, sadly, is by no means a ticket out of poverty — a fact that is particularly true for Oregon Latino families living in poverty. In 2012, nine out of 10 (89.8 percent) poor Oregon Latino families with children had at least one parent in the family who worked in the previous 12 months. By comparison, the figure was seven out of 10 (72.6 percent) for the state’s poor non-Hispanic white families with children.

Measure 88 is important for many working poor families. The measure provides a way for all Oregonians to prove they can drive, get licensed, buy auto insurance and get to work. Most poor families with children have a parent who works. It’s tough being poor despite work, and it’s worse if you cannot drive.

How we calculated the figures

This analysis uses 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Micro Sample (PUMS) microdata. The analysis focused on Oregon households living in poverty with a related child.

The ACS categorizes work experience as “full time in the past 12 months,” “less than full time work in the past 12 months,” and “did not work in the past 12 months.” Less than full time includes short-term and seasonal work. For example, a person who worked 40 hours per week for 10 weeks during the winter holiday season in a retail position would be considered to have worked less than full time by the ACS. This analysis looks at the share of households in poverty with children where at least the head of household or the head’s spouse had some work experience in the 12 months prior to the survey response.

While a person who worked “less than full time” could also be considered long-term unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which defines long-term unemployment as joblessness for 27 weeks or more and actively looking for work during that time, that person is still correctly counted by the ACS as having worked less than full time during the past year. Similarly, a person who “did not work in the past 12 months” under the ACS survey might not be considered “long-term unemployed” under the BLS survey if the person was not actively seeking work. One is a survey of who has been working and the other is a survey of who has been unemployed; they are not meant to be mutually exclusive.

We analyzed each of the ACS work-experience categories by race and by ethnic origin. “Latino” in our analysis refers to individuals categorized by the ACS as being of “Hispanic/Latino/Spanish” origin. They may or may not have identified their race as “white.” We use the term “non-Hispanic white” to refer to those who identified their race as white and not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.