Latino Americans are optimistic about the country’s future despite being hit hard by the pandemic, a Pew survey finds
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Latino Americans are optimistic about the country’s future despite being hit hard by the pandemic, a Pew survey finds

Latinos in the US were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic on a number of fronts.

They experienced higher rates of virus deaths and hospitalizations. They had more trouble making ends meet than other demographic groups due to pay cuts and job losses. They faced barriers to vaccine access.

Still, Latino Americans are more satisfied with the nation’s direction than they have been in a decade, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

The report, which published Thursday and is based on a survey of more than 3,300 Hispanic adults in March of this year, illustrates how Latino Americans feel about their situations in the US, as well as the road ahead.

“We had a sense that Latinos had suffered in a variety of different ways due to the pandemic,” said Jens Manuel Krogstad, a senior writer and editor at the Pew Research Center and one of the report’s authors. “But we also found that Latinos were quite optimistic about their own personal future and the future of the country, despite having faced these challenges.”

About half of Latino adults in the US said they were satisfied with the direction the country is taking, the report stated — the most since 2012. Latinos were also more hopeful than the overall US population, with just one-third of American adults reporting feeling the same.

It’s a significant turnaround from even before the pandemic. In December 2019, nearly two-thirds of Latinos said they were dissatisfied with the way things in the US were going, according to the survey. The number of Republican Latinos who felt satisfied with the direction of the country, meanwhile, saw a 24-point decline from December 2019.

On the whole, Latinos also have a positive outlook on the nation’s recovery.

More than half of Latino adults felt that they would be better off financially in the next year — whether members of their households lost their jobs or faced pay cuts only made a small difference in how they felt, the authors wrote. And nearly two-thirds said the worst of the pandemic was over.

The mood has been shifting since the election

The latest findings mirror a trend seen by Pew Research Center since the 2020 presidential election, after which Latinos reported feeling less angry and more hopeful about the state of the country.

In addition to a new administration that is less hostile to people of color and immigrants, Krogstad said the availability of Covid-19 vaccines and the reopening of the economy might also be contributing to the positive mood shift in Latino Americans.

Matthew Snider, senior health policy analyst for the research and advocacy organization UnidosUS, added that the some of the same factors that made Latinos so vulnerable during the pandemic can also explain the optimism they’re feeling now.

“As businesses reopen and we return to normal, folks who maybe had been out there day in and day out working on the front lines, seeing how hard it was, can maybe appreciate that a little better than some some other folks,” Snider said.

Still, the pandemic took a huge toll

Though Latinos feel better about the country’s future than they have in years, the toll the pandemic took on their communities is undeniable.

In their latest study, Pew researchers also explored the personal and financial effects of the Covid-19 crisis on the US Latino population a year on.

About half of Latino adults reported that someone close to them had either been hospitalized or died from the virus. And about half said that someone in their household had lost a job or experienced a pay cut, according to the survey — the numbers were even higher for those without a green card.

“Many Latinos have jobs that require them to work outside the home, and jobs that require frequent contact with people,” Krogstad said. “In our survey, 45% of Latino adults had jobs that required them to work outside the home since pandemic had started. That can have a variety of potential implications in terms of job security and health.”

As the US looks to address systemic inequities in health care, employment and other sectors, Snider said it’s important to understand the true impact the pandemic had on various demographic groups.

“Looking at how severely certain communities were impacted has to be always central to that conversation looking ahead now,” Snider said. “I think this data and this survey will help provide us some of that information to do the case-making that’s necessary for that work.”

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