From an article by William O'Hare in American Demographics (August):

The mainstream media usually portray America's Hispanics as a group of impoverished, newly arrived immigrants from Mexico or Central America. The truth is more complex. A significant share of the Hispanic community has moved into affluence since 1970, and upscale Hispanic households are one of the nation's fastest-growing market segments.

Affluence means different things to different people, but most analyses put households with annual incomes of $50,000 or more in the affluent category. The number of Hispanic households with an income of $50,000 or more (in 1988 dollars) grew from 191,000 in 1972 to 638,000 in 1988, a 234 percent increase.

Most of this increase occurred during the 1980s. The number of affluent Hispanic households grew by only 129,000 between 1972 and 1980, then gained 318,000 between 1980 and 1988. More than 2.6 million Hispanics live in these 638,000 affluent households.

In 1972, 7.2 percent of Hispanic households were affluent. That share grew to 8.2 percent by 1980 and 10.8 percent in 1988. It is a higher proportion than the share of black households that are affluent (9.8 percent) but much lower than the figure for whites (23.2 percent). And only 1.3 percent of Hispanic household are in the super-affluent category, with annual incomes of more than $100,000.

Among all Hispanic households, average income is low because the average incomes of recent immigrants are so low. However, the averages obscure the rapid growth of affluent Hispanics. Upscale Hispanics represent a growing but often underserved consumer market.