Report Shows Plight of Puerto Rican Youth
Published: October 28, 2010
Theirs was the first Latino group to settle in New York City in large numbers. Most speak English, and they are United States citizens, entitled to the benefits and security that new immigrants can only dream of.
But by many measures, young Puerto Ricans are faring far worse than the young Dominicans, Mexicans and other Latinos in New York, according to a report to be released on Monday by the Community Service Society of New York, a leading antipoverty group.
Puerto Ricans ages 16 to 24 have the lowest rates of school enrollment and employment, and the highest rates of poverty among Latino New Yorkers. Puerto Rican men are more than twice as likely as their Mexican peers to be out of school and out of the labor force. Puerto Rican women are more likely to be out of school and unemployed than Dominican or Mexican women.
The findings, culled from the Census Bureau’s annual surveys from 2006 to 2008, show that Puerto Rican youth are the most disadvantaged of all comparable groups, including young black men, in New York, the report said.
“We are terribly concerned about the issues facing young Latinos, but particularly young Puerto Ricans,” said David R. Jones, the society’s president and chief executive.“It’s shaping the landscape of New York, and it’s happening really quickly.”
Since they began arriving in the city in large numbers in the 1940s, Puerto Ricans have made their mark in many realms, including business, culture and politics. Some of those political leaders — including Representative José E. Serrano, who has represented the South Bronx for two decades, and Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president — strongly disputed the study’s conclusions that Puerto Ricans are any worse off than other Latinos.
“When it comes to Puerto Ricans, there are so many studies that always try to paint the glass as half-empty,” Mr. Serrano said, though he acknowledged that the group faced unusual challenges.“Puerto Ricans are American citizens who are treated by a lot of people as if they are not American citizens.”
Others said the new report would come as no surprise to anyone who had tracked statistics over the years.
“We’re doing horribly as a community,” said Angelo Falcón, who was born in Puerto Rico and is the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, an advocacy group based in New York.“It’s getting worse from the perspective that the problems are not being addressed. They’re festering, and it’s going into the second and third generation.
“The scary part is that people are not paying attention from outside the community.”
Latinos make up nearly one-third of the city’s population between ages 16 and 24, more than any other ethnic group. Puerto Ricans represent 26 percent of that group, while Dominicans make up 29 percent and Mexicans 13 percent.
While Latinos are often viewed as a single bloc, the report considered each group individually. Many of its findings were striking.
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