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In a new study conducted by Florida Atlantic University, Hispanic Consumer Index rose in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the last one of 2023. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP

NEW YORK CITY - Despite stubborn inflation and national economic turmoil in the past year, Hispanics in the U.S. were optimistic about their personal finances and the economy, according to a new study by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economic Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI). Declining unemployment is cited as one of the main reasons.

In the recently published study, titled "Hispanic Consumer Index Finds More Optimism About Finances, Economy in First Quarter of 2024," the university's initiative sampled over 400 Hispanic adults through a survey conducted from January to March. The results showed stark differences with years prior.

The poll sought to gather questions relating Hispanic's perception of their finances through five questions, including an assessment of whether they were better financially than a year ago, if they would be better in a year ahead, and if the country will see better business in the next 5 years.

For one, the Hispanic Consumer Sentiment Index (HCSI) increased to 85.3 in the first quarter of the year, an uptick from 76.3 in the fourth quarter of 2023. Overall, there was an increase in optimism in the five questions used to generate the index when compared to those from the fourth quarter of 2023.

In the first quarter of 2024, 59% of Hispanics said they are better off financially than a year ago, compared to 48% from the last quarter of 2023.

Similarly, during this time period, 71% of Hispanics indicated they will be better off over the next year compared to 68% in the last quarter of 2023.

Regarding the short-term economic outlook of the country, 54% of Hispanics said they expect the country as a whole to experience good business conditions in the upcoming year compared to 49% of the fourth quarter of 2023.

But regardless of these numbers, less than half of Hispanics (32%) survey think it's a good time to invest in big purchases such as buying a house. Meanwhile, 77% of the group believes the cost of living has gone up.

The study comes as the national unemployment rate in the U.S. remains stable. As of March, the unemployment rate stood at 3.8 percent, and the number of unemployed people was 6.4 million. These figures present little change since August 2023, where the rate has slightly fluctuated in the range of 3.7 and 3.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Increased Hispanic optimism also comes after an unexpected surge in inflation during March, where the consumer price index rose 3.5%, possibly eliminating the Federal Reserve's hope at cutting interest rates.

Rising inflation can affect minorities differently.

For instance, a majority of Latino households (56%) say they are struggling with serious problems as a direct result of inflation, according to a poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The figure compares to 44% of white households who report being in the same situation.

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