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The Diverse Beauty of the Hispanic Workforce

By Cliff Despres


The United States is home to 24 million workers of Hispanic descent.

These workers, often referred to as a single entity, come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, each with their own unique labor challenges in terms of education, poverty, location, language, and access to health and retirement benefits, according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Key findings are below in each topic area:

hispanic workforce mapDemographics

  • Workers of Mexican descent are by far the largest subgroup of the Hispanic workforce (14.9 million).
  • Women make up only 43.3% of the overall Hispanic workforce, but they are a majority of several subgroups, including Panamanians (58.1%), Bolivians (53.2%), and Paraguayans (51%).
  • About two-thirds of Hispanic workers are U.S. citizens – Puerto Ricans (98.7%) and Spaniards (90.9%) are the groups most likely to be citizens.
  • Hispanic workers in general are more likely than workers of any other race/ethnicity to be in poverty. Among Hispanics, Guatemalans are most likely to be members of the working poor (19.1%).
  • Most Hispanic workers are concentrated in California (26.8%), Texas (18.6%), Florida (9.6%), New York (6.7%), and Arizona (3.7%).


  • Overall, Hispanic workers have a lower level of educational attainment than workers of other races/ethnicities.
  • Venezuelan workers have the highest level of educational attainment, with 52% having a college degree or more.
  • Argentinean workers have the second-highest educational attainment, with 40.8% having a college degree or more.


  • About 30% of Hispanic workers do not have health insurance.
  • Over half of Guatemalan (53.5%) and Honduran workers (52.4%) lack health insurance.
  • The next-highest level of uninsured groups are Salvadorans (36.3%), Ecuadorians (33.7%), and Mexicans (33.2%).
  • Spaniards (10.5%) are the least likely to lack health insurance.


  • Hispanic union workers earn 24.9% (about $3.99 per hour) more than their non-union peers.
  • Hispanic union workers are 30.3 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and are 27.7 percentage points more likely to have employer-sponsored retirement plans.

“Understanding the diversity and challenges faced by Hispanic workers is key to making better policy decisions,” said Cherrie Bucknor, report author. “This report shows that unionization is an important tool to improve the economic conditions of Hispanic workers.”

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