It is a commonplace claim that the education level of the Latino immigrant population is continually falling behind that of the U.S.-born population. However, the Pew Hispanic Center finds that the educational profile of the adult population of foreign-born Latinos has improved significantly during the past three decades. These gains, however, have not yet produced a notable convergence with the level of education in the native-born U.S. population. During the period 1970 to 2000 the native-born population also experienced improvements of education that outpaced the progress among Latino immigrants. Nonetheless, the trends identified in this report suggest that the gap between immigrants and natives will narrow in the future.
This report shows that by some measures a greater share of Latinos are attending college classes than non-Hispanic whites, and yet they lag every other population group in attaining college degrees, especially bachelor’s degrees. A detailed examination of data for enrollment shows a high propensity among Latino high school graduates to pursue post-secondary studies. However, most are pursuing paths associated with lower chances of attaining a bachelor’s degree. Many are enrolled in community colleges, many also only attend school part-time and others delay or prolong their college education into their mid-20s and beyond. These findings clearly show that large numbers of Latinos finish their secondary schooling and try to extend their education but fail to earn a degree.
The Latino labor force is experiencing a major generational shift as increasing numbers of today’s young native-born Latino Americans become workers. This report describes the wage, employment outcomes, and labor market attachment of Latino adults by age and generation during the economic expansion of the late 1990s.