The report on Sussex’s Hispanic Community should be must reading for anyone who does business in the state’s southernmost county.
(See story below or click on this link.)
The report, commissioned by the Delaware Community Foundation, offers insights into a remarkably diverse community. The Sussex community includes immigrants from a number of nations, as well as subgroups that include indigenous residents without a command of either Spanish or English.
Authors of the report, both University of Delaware faculty members, admit that a deeper and more data-driven dive would have been even more valuable. Still, they came up with useful analysis and information derived from in-depth interviews.
An overview includes a useful discussion of Sussex County’s original population that is less diverse than other areas of the Mid-Atlantic and South many families having ancestors who arrived hundreds of years ago.
In migration was not a big factor for much of the area’s history, thanks to a fishing and agricultural-based economy. Then beach areas became popular, with property taxes accelerating the trend.
The overall message is that the Hispanic community is making economic gains, although poverty rates remain high.
Businesses are sprouting up and there are pockets of Hispanic populations with incomes well above the poverty level.
Also, in the mix is an estimatedpopulation of 12,000 undocumented residents who live in the shadows and are subject to exploitation in a shadow economy.
Contrary to the popular myth,the workers do not have a shot at jobs in poultry or other industries where documentation is required.
Authors also delve into challenges that include housing as home prices remain high, access to services and challenges facing the education system. These challenges are faced by all Sussex residents with low to moderate incomes.
One thing we do know is that the Hispanic population is on the young side, no small matter in keeping the economy going as the population ages and moves into retirement.
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