“Portuguese-Americans in California make more money than the average in the United States, in California and in the community,” said the researcher, during the annual summit of the Portuguese-American coalition in California, CPAC ('California Portuguese American Coalition').
“Rhode Island has the lowest income level, followed by Florida, and New Jersey has the highest,” she added.
Data was compiled from U.S. American Community Survey (ACS) 2019 statistics. Census Bureau and show that Portuguese-Americans in New Jersey have an average family income of US$122,967 (€116,849) a year, while in California this is US$116,400 (€110,609).
In Massachusetts, the average annual income of Portuguese-Americans is US$103,400, while in Florida it is US$86,400 and in Rhode Island it is US$85,200. By comparison, the average in the United States is $93,500 (€88,800) annually.
In her research, Dulce Maria Scott found aggregated data (ACS 2015) showing that Portuguese-Americans earned a total of US$43.1 billion (€40.9 billion), with residents of Portuguese origin in California ahead with 11.6 billion.
In terms of occupations, Portuguese-Americans in California have the highest percentage (42.1%) in the highest paid segments – science, finance, arts and management – followed by residents of Florida (41.9%), New Jersey (38.2%), Massachusetts (37.2%) and Rhode Island (34.2%).
The presentation also focused on the educational level of Portuguese-Americans and showed an exponential evolution since 2000, with 31.6% already having higher education. The average in the United States of America is 33.1%.
With data that indicate a rapid assimilation of the Portuguese community, the researcher Dulce Maria Scott stressed the concern that exists regarding the maintenance of the language and culture.
“There are four diasporic concerns: maintaining the Portuguese language, getting more people involved in community organisations, maintaining culture and maintaining ties with Portugal,” she said.
“Maintaining the Portuguese language is a concern of the diaspora because it is important for maintaining cultural identity,” she continued, referring to statistics obtained in the 2019-2020 Luso-American Leadership Council (PALCUS) survey.
Drop in fluency
The ACS 2019 figures say that 73.2% of Portuguese-Americans only speak English at home. Fluency in Portuguese, according to the PALCUS research, drops considerably from the second generation onwards.
Concerns extend to the connection of communities with Portugal. “The country of origin is where the diaspora bases its identity. We need connections to the country of origin to ground ourselves as Portuguese-Americans”.
In the survey, part of the respondents said that it is difficult to get young people to get involved in community organisations, which complicates future viability.
“If we don't have community organizations, we won't be a diaspora in the long run,” said Dulce Maria Scott. “It's good that people have diasporic concerns, but bad that they feel these issues are threatened,” she noted.
The researcher's figures also show that the total population of Portuguese origin in the United States has been decreasing in recent decades. It went from 1.426 million in the 2010 census to 1.372 million in the ACS 2015 and 1.363 million in the ACS 2020.
California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island recorded significant declines from 2010 onwards, while Florida and Texas were the fastest growing states.