Elusive College Diploma Hinders NM Latinos' Earning Power
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The high school dropout rate for Latinos in New Mexico is at an all time low, but once they get to college, a new report says these students are less likely to obtain a four-year degree or earn the same salary after graduation as whites or African-Americans.
The name of the study says it all – "Running Faster but Still Behind." It shows Latinos are stuck in the middle, in terms of wages and educational attainment.
Joe Garcia, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, says Latinos are enrolling in college at a higher rate than ever, but often don't complete a four-year degree.
"And that is particularly important now, when they are really the only growing demographic in most of our states,” he states. “They are, in fact, the workforce of the future and future workers are much more likely to need a college degree than they did 20 or 30 or 40 years ago."
In New Mexico, 15 percent of Latinos have a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to 21 percent nationwide.
Many are the first in their families to attend college and don't have the support to help them navigate the college application and financial aid process.
The lead author of the new study, Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, says as Latinos get more post-secondary education, their earnings increase and the relative inequality between Latinos and whites is reduced. But he points out Latinos still are not getting paid the same.
"They're not getting the same earnings for the same degrees as whites do,” he asserts. “That is irrespective of what major Latinos enroll in, what college they enroll in, whether they graduate or not. In the end, they always make less than whites."
The study says since the 1990s, high school graduation rates for Latinos have improved the most when compared to their white and African-American peers, and Latinos also complete certificate programs at a higher rate than other demographic groups.