No other racial or ethnic group in the country is feeling as much financial strain right now as Native Americans. That’s according to a national poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It found that inflation has caused 69 percent of Native Americans significant financial problems.
According to census data, close to 27 percent of Native Americans live in poverty. That’s significantly more than the rest of the country, which averages close to 15 percent.
The poll’s findings include data from the five largest racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Altogether, more than 4,100 adults were interviewed between mid-May and mid-June of 2022. The data underscores that racial and ethnic minorities are having a tough time compared to their white counterparts in some key spheres of life, particularly with finances, affordable housing, neighborhood safety, education and health care.
The poll revealed that more than 40 percent of Native American adults are having trouble making payments on credit cards or loans. A majority (58 percent) of Native American adults surveyed say they do not have enough emergency savings to cover at least one month of expenses.
Having enough money for even basic necessities is a challenge for many households. The higher cost of gas and soaring food prices are making life on the reservation even more difficult than usual. Nearly 40 percent of Native Americans reported having serious problems affording food, compared with 21 percent of white adults.
The inflated cost of health care in the U.S. is also straining family budgets. More than 20 percent Native American adults say affording medical care or prescription drugs is a severe problem for them. Among U.S. households where anyone has been seriously ill, 35 percent of Native Americans, compared to 18 percent of white households, say they were unable to get medical care for serious illnesses when they needed it in the past year.