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More Latinos Go to College; Job and Pay Struggles Remain

A new report says a Latina woman would have to earn two additional college degrees in order to have median earnings similar to a white man. (Pixabay)
A new report says a Latina woman would have to earn two additional college degrees in order to have median earnings similar to a white man. (Pixabay)
October 13, 2017

RICHMOND, Va. – More Latinos are going to college, but they're losing ground in the labor market, according to a new report. The study, from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, found that more Latinos are getting education beyond high school, but only 21 percent have college degrees, compared with 32 percent of blacks and 45 percent of whites.

According to Anthony Carnevale, director of the center and lead author of the report, relatively few Latinos are enrolling in more selective colleges that have higher graduation rates.

"They're stuck in the middle," he says. "That is, they're in the two-year colleges in certificates more than degrees. And relative to their growing share of the population, they're actually losing ground."

When it comes to finishing high school, 83 percent of Latinos do compared with 94 percent of white students.

The research found Latinos generally have the lowest median income of all groups. Carnevale notes that, for those with some post-secondary education, the pay gap gets smaller - but income still lags behind white workers.

"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," he explains.

The report offers some good news. It says since the 1990s, high-school graduation rates have risen faster for Latinos than for their black or white peers.

Carnevale adds that more than 100,000 Latino students have test scores that could get them into some of the top colleges in the country.

"They've done their part," he adds. "The issue is whether or not we will have the kinds of supports that are required for lower-income, minority families to make that leap into the college ranks, especially at the B.A. level."

In some high-wage occupations, the report says race-based earnings gaps between whites and Latinos with at least a bachelor's degree essentially vanish.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA