Princeton, N.J.—An NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll shows that at a time when households across the U.S. widely report experiencing serious problems from inflation, people of color are substantially more likely than Whites to report they are currently having serious financial problems in this period (see Table 1). Black, Latino and Native American adults also report facing more serious issues across several areas compared to White Americans.
Notably, 58 percent of Black and Native American families reported not having enough emergency savings to cover at least one month of their expenses, compared to 53 percent of Latino adults and 36 percent of White adults. Further, 39 percent of Native American, 32 percent of Black, 30 percent of Latino and 14 percent of Asian adults reported having serious problems affording food, compared to 21 percent of White adults.
“Even though there are many programs aimed to help families with food costs, much higher rates of Black, Latino, and Native American households currently say they are facing serious problems affording food. This is likely to have major immediate and longer-term health consequences for millions of families,” said Mary Findling, Assistant Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In addition, a wider share of Black renters (16%), Native American renters (21%) and Latino renters (10%) say they have been evicted or threatened with eviction in the past year than White renters (9%, see Figure 1). Only 4 percent of Asian renters reported eviction or threats of eviction.
This poll, Personal Experiences of U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Today’s Difficult Times, was conducted May 16–June 13, 2022, among 4,192 U.S. adults. The report details findings among the five largest racial/ethnic groups in the United States: 1,216 non-Hispanic White adults; 1,103 Black, adults; 1,066 Hispanic/Latino adults; 552 Asian adults; and 180 Native American adults ages 18 and older. See the Methodology below for further details.
“The serious problem of inflation is impacting Black families more than many other Americans. Millions of households led by people of color across the nation are facing distinct, serious financial problems during this period, including many who are being threatened with eviction and face unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods, with few options to help,” said Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and Richard L. Menschel Professor of Public Health and Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis Emeritus at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
While more than 6 in 10 people of all racial and ethnic groups reported a lack of affordable housing to rent or buy, the condition of the neighborhoods where they lived varied. Black, Native American, and Latino families were significantly more likely to report serious problems with air and water quality, access to good jobs, and access to parks and greenspace.
"These poll findings are a reminder that while everyone is impacted by today's inflation and economy, we're not all feeling the same pressures in the same ways," said Alonzo Plough, Vice President for Research and Evaluation and Chief Science Officer at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "These differences are the result of policies and practices that have created fewer opportunities in some communities and we need solutions that are designed to build a more equitable future."