LAS VEGAS (AP) — Presidential candidates visiting Nevada often focus on talking about immigration when courting Hispanic voters. But advocates say Nevada Latinos who are still working to recover from the Great Recession are most focused on the economy and jobs.
Latinos, who make up 29 percent of Nevada’s population, are a key voting bloc in the swing state and Republicans and Democrats are making plans to seek their votes in next year’s election.
To win support from Latinos, candidates should start with basic economic issues, according to the Hispanic civil rights organization UnidosUS, which hosted a policy discussion in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
Jennifer Brown, who oversees economic research for UnidosUS, said Nevada Latinos have had a harder time recovering from the recession that began in 2007.
“Latinos are still not doing as well as all Nevadans and many are still struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
Brown cited the rising unemployment rate among Nevada Latinos, which was 5.4% in 2017, up from 4.4% a decade earlier. That rise comes as the statewide unemployment rate dropped in that same period, from 8.2% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2017.
She also points to the poverty rate for Nevada Latinos, which remained essentially unchanged from 2007 to 2017 and hovered around 13.5%. The statewide poverty rate jumped during that same decade, but it still remains much lower, hitting 9.1% in 2017.
Rafael Collazo, the political director of UnidosUS, said the group’s surveys of Nevada Latinos found the economy, jobs and health care to be the top priorities they want 2020 candidates to address, followed by immigration and issues like gun violence, climate change and education.