(Update: Adding video, comments from Latino Community Assn., more statistics)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Latino Community Association released a report Monday that was more than a year in the making, showing how issues such as health care, education and employment affect the Latino population in Central Oregon.
Staff and volunteers used the most recent census and local education and health data to collect information from Latinos living in Central Oregon.
U.S. Census data showed the Latino population in Central Oregon has grown from 3,267 in 1990 to an estimated 20,512 in 2018.
The report showed 75% of Latinos in Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties were born in the U.S.
The LCA’s report said Latinos comprise about 7% of the population in Deschutes and Crook counties, and 20% in Jefferson County.
They made up a high percentage of the workforce, filling nearly 8,500 jobs in Central Oregon. However, the report said unemployment among the Latino population was slightly higher than for white residents.
“There is a myth that they’re taking more from social services than they’re giving to our economy, and it’s simply not true,” said Brad Porterfield, LCA’s executive director.
The report said poverty rates in the Latino community are significantly higher than among white communities.
Out of 4,942 Latino households surveyed, 46% percent have a housing need, while nearly 30% expressed a “severe” housing need.
“We need immigration reform in the country because that alone will impact many of these areas of people’s lives,” Porterfield said.
The report said more Latinos in Central Oregon fall into the typical working age than white residents. The median age of Latinos range between 22 and 28 years, compared to 43 to 51 years for white residents.
"The youthfulness of the Latino population accounts for our higher rates of labor force participation and a higher proportion among school-age children," the report stated.
It also touched on other issues facing Latino youth.
Data showed the percentage of Latinos living in Deschutes County who have a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree exceeds the statewide average for Latinos.
In a survey of LCA clients, 48% said their children told them they felt bad after hearing comments or experiencing certain attitudes by their classmates.
Denise Holley, LCA’s research and communication assistant, said the experiences of Latinos in Central Oregon are not monolithic.
“Even though many Latinos feel welcome in Central Oregon and almost everybody who lives here loves this place, one of the downsides is sometimes, if not yourself then other Latinos, hearing derogatory comments,” Holley said.
You can see the full report here: