bernie sanders face
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks about his economic platform on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 6, 2015. The Vermont independent is kicking his Latino outreach into a higher gear in recent weeks, mentioning the term "Latino" for the first time on Twitter since his campaign began. In the past, he referred to the same group as "Hispanics." JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign tweeted term “Latinos” on Wednesday for the first time. The Tweet came just days after the Vermont Senator hired his first Latino Outreach Director. It tailors the candidate’s broader economic message to a Latino audience that’s just getting to know him.

“It is not acceptable that Latinos make up more than 16% of our population but have only 2.2% of the nation’s wealth,” Sander’s campaign tweeted from the senator’s account.

Do Latinos really control such a small percentage of the nation's wealth? We decided to fact-check Sander’s statistic, a Latino variation on stats that are staples in his speeches.

Both figures appear to come from a 2014 Washington Post article “ The Great American Hispanic Wealth Gap,” by Roberto A. Ferdman (the Sanders campaign did not respond to our request to confirm that source). The article reported on the findings of a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Here is Ferdman’s summary:

Despite steady (and staggering) growth in the U.S.'s Hispanic population—which has swelled from 9.1 million in 1970, to more than 54 million today—Latinos aren't seeing commensurate growth in their bank accounts. The average Hispanic household still only has about $109,000 to its name, or nearly $400,000 less than the average American household [...] and more than $500,000 less than the average white American household.

Put in other words, Hispanics make up more than 16 percent of the U.S. population, but only hold about 2.2 percent of its wealth. One of the most important voting demographics in the U.S. is getting severely short-changed.

So far, so good: Sander’s statistics appear to cite a reputable newspaper covering an authoritative study. Plus, Bernie’s tweet doesn’t contain any of the absolute terms like “all” that have earned him a slap on the wrist from fact-checkers in the past.

The article is only a year old, and the Hispanic population has risen about 1 point, so the first part of the tweet is correct or even an understatement: 2015 Census statistics put the Hispanic share of the population at 17.4 percent, up from 16.3 percent in 2014.

We also looked at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study cited in the WaPo article. It has the upbeat title of “Hispanic Population's Share of Wealth Likely to Increase by 2025,” and predicts that Hispanics’ share of wealth will increase to 3.2 percent. That might make us think that Sanders is being unduly pessimistic.

Yet the details of the study actually support Sanders’ statement.

“We estimate that the majority of the gain will be due to faster population growth, but a small increase may occur due to faster growth of average household wealth,” the report states.

To put it another way, Latinos aren’t expected to make or save more money under current economic conditions, they’re merely going to have more kids. Sander’s claim that Latinos only control 2.2 percent of the country’s wealth is pretty much on point.

One Caveat: Latinos Are Younger

There is an important detail missing from Sanders’ tweet, and in the St. Louis study. They don’t mention age. Latinos are way younger than the average U.S. population. The Census estimates from American Factfinder put the median Hispanic age in 2014 was 28.4, compared to the national median of 37.6 years of age.

Latinos are ten years younger than the national average, so it is reasonable to expect that they would have a disproportionate percentage of the country’s wealth.

People tend to earn and save radically more as they get older, peaking in middle age. Even if there were not systemic forces suppressing their success on the basis of ethnicity or immigration history, as Sander’s tweet implies, Latinos would have less wealth.

Yet our caveat doesn’t come close contracting Sander’s statistics, which highlight Latino’s truely disproportionately unequal share of wealth in America.

In the spirit of PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter (who have not relationship with the Latin Times or IBT Media), we consider Sander’s Latino stat to be mostly true; factually correct but benefiting from additional information and context.

* We searched tweets from @sensanders for the terms latino OR latinos OR hispanic OR hispanics OR chicano OR chicanos OR mexicans on two Twitter search tools going back to 2013. Hispanics are mentioned once and Hispanic heritage is mentioned once.

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