BOSTON (AP) — While the diverse Latino population in Massachusetts continues to struggle through the pre-pandemic issues of reduced educational and economic opportunity, and health care disparities, there is reason for optimism, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Even though Massachusetts is among the nation's wealthiest states, Latino communities have struggled economically relative to Latinos nationwide, according to an introduction to the report by Boston Indicators, the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at UMass Boston, and the Latino Equity Fund.

The report among other things says educational attainment is a central challenge for Latinos; Latinos of Central American origins tend to have lower levels of socioeconomic wellbeing; the state's high housing costs limit homeownership; and the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected Latinos.

The report also makes several recommendations, including affordable housing programs, increased access to early education and child care so parents can work, and more support for Latino-owned businesses.

“At a time when we have an unprecedented labor shortage across multiple industries, tapping into our talented, entrepreneurial and fast-growing Latino communities is crucial to addressing issues like child care and upskilling pathways to higher opportunity jobs,” Juan Fernando Lopera, co-chair of the Latino Equity Fund, said in a statement.

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