LatinaLista — Have you heard?
There’s another Latino migration happening across the country.
The Pew Hispanic Center released their latest report today â€” 1995 — 2005: Foreign-Born Latinos Make Progress on Wages.
It seems Latino immigrants are moving from low-wage jobs to being middle-wage earners.
Unfortunately, the study also underscores the sad wage earning status of native born Latinos and reflects the impact of what the high dropout rate is having and will have on the future of this nation’s economy.
The Pew Hispanic study reported that
Employment of foreign-born Hispanics increased 83% between 1995 and 2005. But employment growth was much faster in the middle of the wage distribution, ranging from an increase of 104% for Latinos in the low-middle group to an increase of 112% for those in the high-middle group. Growth in Latino employment in the lowest wage class (57%) was well below average.
The study attributed this change in wage-earning status to the fact that newly arrived immigrants were older, better educated and found work in construction, rather than agriculture.
It’s a finding that is supported by the fact that there was a Construction Workers Day held on April 15, 2007 and there now exists a bilingual magazine dedicated to the Latino construction workforce.
El Constructor Latino reports that:
The number of construction workers who identified themselves as Hispanic quadrupled from 1980-2000.
In 2000 there were 1.4 million Hispanic construction workers in the United States. 70% of those workers were born outside of the U.S. and their first language is Spanish.
Of the total number of Hispanic construction workers in the U.S., nearly half â€“ 47% live in the South.
The proportion of Hispanic ownership in construction exceeded Hispanic ownership of
businesses overall. (CPWR 2002)
Construction is second only to agriculture as the industry having the highest proportion of Latino workers. (National Safety Council)
As these Latino immigrant workers migrate up the wage-earning ladder, the Pew Study found that the native born Latino worker really didn’t go anywhere.
In fact, almost 50% of native-born Latinos fell below the middle of the wage distribution in 2005 â€” 26% were low-wage earners and 23% were low-middle earners.
Only 12% of the native-born Latino workforce was considered in the high-wage category and 22% among middle-wage earners.
What can we draw from this?
Maybe some hard questions need to be asked: Why aren’t more native-born Latinos going after jobs in the construction industry?
Could it be as basic as the work being too hot and dangerous?
Maybe an easier question to answer would be: Why are 50% of native-born Latinos concentrated in the low to low-middle wage earning categories?
That answer is obvious. Though there are always extenuating circumstances that feed off of each other in a cyclical pattern, the bottom line has to be education.
These native-born Latinos are not receiving the kind of message they need about staying in school. They’re not receiving the kind of instruction that enables them to be fully literate, responsible and ambitious citizens.
They’re living in conditions that are not conducive to dreaming of a better future, but rather they see the future only as a continuation of their current lifestyle.
It is unacceptable that 50% of the Latino population is considered “poor.”
This study may be all about the Latino immigrant workers’ success in this country but if the next generation falls behind the gains of the first generation, then this success is not just short-lived but an illusion as to what it really means for the future of the Latino community.