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Latino Education Key to Colorado's Economic Competitiveness

Among major demographic groups, Latina women are the lowest earning group in America. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
Among major demographic groups, Latina women are the lowest earning group in America. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
October 11, 2017

DENVER – Latinos are falling further behind whites and blacks in educational attainment, and an under-educated workforce could have broad impacts on Colorado's economy, according to a new study from Georgetown University.

Joe Garcia, president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, says 74 percent of future jobs in Colorado will require workers with some college education.

Due to an aging white population, he says Latinos need to be ready to fill a greater proportion of those posts.

"Even if you look only at our white population, we're not close to that,” he states. “We're going to lose out in terms of economic competitiveness to other states – or, in fact, other countries – that are able to do a better job of providing post-secondary education."

Only 14 percent of Latinos in Colorado hold a bachelor's degree or higher compared to 46 percent of whites and 25 percent of blacks.

The report found a lack of degrees has led to Latinos getting stuck in the middle of the labor market in terms of wages.

Latino and black men with at least a bachelor's degree also bring home almost $20,000 a year less than white men with the same education level.

Anthony Carnevale, the report's lead author and the director of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, says rising costs have led to Latinos enrolling in community colleges and trade schools, where graduation rates are lower than the nation's top 500 colleges.

He adds Latina women are leading the way by getting more education, but they are not getting paid fairly for it.

"They're increasing their education even faster than Latino men but they're earnings are really disappointing, not only compared to Latino men but compared to African American and white men and compared to African American and white females as well."

Carnevale says education, not hard work, is the main barrier for Latino progress.

Carnevale notes first generation immigrants worked hard in jobs that required a high school diploma or less. He says that helped put families in a position for moving future generations into higher education, which he argues is still the best bet for continued economic advancement.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO