Faced with the country’s worst inflation in four decades, black, Latino and Native American families are already having more problems with food, shelter and health care than their white counterparts, according to a new poll.
The findings, released Monday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, mirror previous research detailing how some people of color are worse off as the cost of living soars. .
In June, inflation rose 9.1% from a year earlier, reaching a nearly 41-year high. At that time, 55% of black Americans, 48% of Latinos, and 63% of Native Americans reported “serious financial problems,” compared to 38% of white adults and 29% of Asian adults.
Native Americans were the most burdened group in almost every spending category, struggling to pay for credit cards, loans, food and medical care at higher rates than their black and Latino peers, the poll found.
The exception was housing: 23% of Black households and 26% of Latino households in the survey reported serious problems paying their mortgage or rent, compared to 21% of Native American households, who were nevertheless more likely to report having been deported or threatened with deportation last year.
Not surprisingly, rising inflation, driven in part by exorbitant gas prices and housing costs, would weigh particularly heavily on Black, Latino and Native American families. Not only do black, Hispanic, and Native American families tend to earn less money each year, but they also tend to have lower homeownership rates, lower credit scores, and less wealth, making them more vulnerable in times of economic hardship.
Of particular concern is the share of black and Latino families who struggle to find housing because, as renters, they are more likely than their white and Asian counterparts to be considered “cost overburdened.” This means that they spend more than 30% of their income on rent, leaving them little room to adjust to higher prices.
Related: This single mother spends 50% of her monthly income on rent. Here’s how she survives.
“The severe problem of inflation affects black families more than many other Americans,” Robert J. Blendon, co-director of the survey and professor at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said in a statement. “Millions of households headed by people of color across the country are facing distinct and serious financial challenges during this time, many facing eviction and facing unsafe conditions in their neighborhoods, with little options to help them.”
The consequences of the imbalanced effects of inflation could portend future health problems for these already marginalized communities. Mary Findling, associate director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, added in a statement that food accessibility issues are “likely to have major immediate health consequences and in the longer term for millions of families”.
The poll is part of an ongoing series of surveys developed by researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in partnership with NPR and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The most recent survey interviews were conducted online and by phone from May 16 to June 13 and included nearly 4,200 adults with nationally representative samples of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans.
Read more: ‘There’s no doubt black families face significantly higher rates of inflation’: Why some Americans are better placed than others to avoid sky-high prices