Latinos have a special relationship with money
Hispanics are increasingly optimistic about their financial situations as they head into 2024. This is a representational image.

NEW YORK CITY - Following years of volatile and rising costs, Hispanics are now feeling optimistic about their financial situations as they head into the new year, a new poll by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economic Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) reveals.

In a recently published survey conducted between Oct. and Dec. of last year, Hispanics shared their perceptions about what their financial conditions will look like in 2024. The result showed a great deal of hope.

68% of surveyed Hispanics believed they will see financial improvements in the near future, compared to 65% who gave the same answer in the third quarter of 2023. Similarly, 49% of Hispanics believe the country will experience good business conditions in the year ahead, unchanged from the previous quarter.

Similarly, 48% of Hispanics believe they are better off financially now than a year ago.

Despite this, Monica Escaleras, director of BEPI in the College of Business at FAU issued a cautionary warning: "While there was a slight uptick in the consumer sentiment index during the fourth quarter, individuals remain cautious about the December surge in inflation,"

There are still some insecurities about the long run, particularly when it comes to making big purchases. In fact, more than half of these Hispanics do not believe it is a good time to buy a big-ticket item such as a house or car.

"In particular, consumers are facing higher prices in energy, food and shelter," Escaleras said. "The impact of these price increases is particularly noticeable for low- and middle-income families, as they allocate a larger share of their income to essential expenses."

These results come as Americans' bank accounts see a stabilizing period following a pandemic-fueled whirlwind. However, the impact of this is not yet in the rearview mirror, as households' balances have leveled off in the past year as they recalibrate their spending to keep up with inflation and other post-covid realities.

Latinos' sentiment are in line with broader consumer optimism in the U.S. The latest report on this by the University of Michigan showed that sentiment reached its highest level in two and a half year amid growing optimism over the outlook for inflation and household incomes.

Moreover, new data showed that economic growth in the country slowed far less than expected in the last quarter of 2023, illustrating the continued strength of the economy. The U.S.'s GDP grew at an annualized rate of 3.3%, in contrast with the 2% expected by economists.

These numbers are particularly noteworthy as the U.S. heads into presidential election season.

While immigration and border security are a top concern for Washington officials, voter surveys consistently show inflation and living expenses to be a top priority among Latino voters in 2024.

This could present a problem for President Biden and his re-election bid, given Latinos tend to trust Trump's economic policies more, the survey shows.

"For Democrats, the wakeup call Latinos are sending is that economic issues are a top concern, and Democrats seem to be struggling in connecting with people on economic issues," Clarissa Martinez De Castro, vice president of Latino Vote Initiative at UnidosUS, told NBC News.

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