A Labor Day Weekend Look at Latinos in the Labor Force


Hispanics in the United States are the labor force of the future and the current backbone of Social Security.
That, according to a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, which reports that Hispanics will account for 75 percent of the nation’s labor force growth in the next decade fueled by an increasing birth rate and constant immigration which has contributed to the rapid growth of this population.
The study finds that the aging non-Hispanic population entering Social Security – due to the baby-boomers’ generation– will need the younger Latino labor force to carry millions of Americans’ pensions. In addition, the non-Hispanic birth rate is slowing down at an alarming rate. White women are giving birth at a later age and to fewer children.
Hispanics are expected to add 7.7 million workers to the labor force while the number of non-Hispanic whites in the labor force is projected to decrease by 1.6 million. In 2011, the U.S. Labor Department reported Latinos represented 15 percent of the U.S. labor force, by 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force. Women comprised 41 percent of all Latinos in the labor force in 2011, compared to 46 percent among the white labor force.
Employed Latinos are much less likely to have a college degree than are either Whites or African Americans. Approximately one in six employed Latinos aged 25 and over have completed a bachelor’s degree, less than half the proportion among employed Whites. Since 2000, this gap in the share of employed Latinos and Whites who are college graduates has widened.
Latinos are also more likely than either Whites or African Americans to be employed in the private sector. Conversely, Latinos are less likely to work for government than are either Whites or African Americans.
Half of Latinos working full-time earned at least $549 per week in 2011. This median weekly wage was only 71 percent of that earned by Whites. This gap in earning has been largely stable over the recession and recovery period.
Some of the wage differences between Latinos and non-Latinos can be explained by the usual differences in education and other standard worker characteristics, such as experience and certain demographic characteristics. However, part of the wage gap between Latinos and non-Latinos is due to factors specific to immigrant populations such as language proficiency or time since arrival.
The most recent unemployment report in February 2012 shows improvement for all Americans, including Latinos, who have seen their unemployment rate decline to 10.7 percent in February from a high of 13.1 percent in November 2010. In addition, unemployed Latinos experience a shorter duration of unemployment.
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