The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to upend the well-being of many Hispanic adults and their families. Employment and earnings losses related to the pandemic are likely to impose an especially high toll on Hispanic adults who are noncitizens or live with noncitizen family members, many of whom are barred from federal relief efforts and existing safety net programs or have been discouraged from applying for assistance because they fear it may adversely affect their or a family member’s immigration status.
This brief focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on family employment, financial security, and material hardship among nonelderly Hispanic adults by family citizenship status, drawing on data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, a nationally representative survey of nonelderly adults conducted between March 25 and April 10, 2020. We find the following:
- Over two-thirds (68.8 percent) of Hispanic adults in families with noncitizens and about half (49.1 percent) of Hispanic adults in families where all members are citizens reported that they or a family member have lost a job, work hours, or work-related income because of the coronavirus outbreak. Both shares are higher than those for non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white adults.
- Over half (54.2 percent) of Hispanic adults in families with noncitizens and 4 in 10 (40.6 percent) in families where all members are citizens reported one or more of the following in the 30 days before the survey: household food insecurity, a family member forgoing medical care because of cost, problems paying utility bills, or problems paying the rent or mortgage.
- Almost half of Hispanic adults in families with noncitizens reported that their families cut back spending on food (46.9 percent) because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and more than 6 in 10 (62.5 percent) of these adults have a child under age 19. More than 6 in 10 Hispanic adults in families with noncitizens reported that their families put off major household purchases (62.9 percent), and another half severely cut into savings or increased credit card debt (49.9 percent).
- Though Hispanic adults in families where all members are citizens were far less likely to report these impacts, many indicated they were experiencing these problems: about 4 in 10 said they cut back spending on food (40.3 percent) and a similar share drew down savings or increased credit card debt (39.5 percent).
- Roughly two-thirds (67.7 percent) of Hispanic adults in families with noncitizens are very or somewhat worried about being able to work as many hours as they want in the coming month. Additionally, large shares worry about being able to pay debts (65.3 percent), utility bills (62 percent), the rent or mortgage (61.1 percent), and medical costs (55.8 percent). Over half (58.7 percent) worry about having enough to eat in the next month, and of those, nearly two-thirds (64.5 percent) have children under age 19 in the family.
Without additional policy changes that target their needs, Hispanic families with noncitizens will continue experiencing food insecurity and other serious economic hardships during the pandemic. Investments that help those struggling now are critical to helping both noncitizen families, their children, and their communities recover quickly from this economic crisis.