Moving Up the Economic Ladder: Latino Workers and the Nation’s Future Prosperity

Research Report

Among workers, Latino men are the most likely to be in a job or looking for one.

Their consistently high labor force participation rate has been one of the dominant factors behind Latino economic gains. Yet despite their strong attachment to the labor force and the recent boom economy, there is a segment of Latino workers who continue to face challenges to economic prosperity. These workers typically have low education levels and limited workplace skills, and some are immigrants, but not enough has been written to document ways in which their employability can be enhanced. In particular, there is a gap in policy-relevant literature, specifically related to employment. Beyond understanding the challenges that Latino workers face as they seek jobs, what else is known about the changes in the economy that these employees will encounter? How can the nation better prepare Hispanics to move into sectors of the economy in which they are underrepresented? And how much does Latino economic status have to do with the increasing segment of the population that is immigrant?

To address some of these questions, as well as to augment the work that has been done on Latino employment issues, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) convened an Academic Advisory Committee. These experts know the research, could help identify gaps, and have a common interest in raising the employment issues affecting Latinos to a national level in order to have policy-makers respond. This book reflects the collaborative effort undertaken by NCLR, its Advisory Committee, and other academicians over an almost-three-year period. After many discussions and several revisions, it seeks to describe the current employment status of Latino workers, and address the different factors that influence their outcomes. Moreover, it analyzes the current thinking to offer some direction for future research and for policy, with an aim toward improving not only the employment prospects of Latino workers, but also the socioeconomic status of the Latino community. This is especially timely given the demographic changes that the U.S. is experiencing, which show that Latinos are younger than their non-Hispanic counterparts and, as such, will make up a significant portion of the nation’s workforce in the years to come.


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