Wednesday, May 25, 2011
A Gap for Latinos
While young Latinos value a college education, fewer than half expect to get a college degree.
By Mark Hugo Lopez is associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.
Young Latinos, more than all youth in the U.S., are sold on the benefits of a college education.
Fully 89 percent of young Latinos think a college degree is essential, while the jobless rate for Latino graduates has spiked.
In a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center survey, fully 89 percent of Latinos ages 16 to 25 said a college degree was necessary for success in life, a share higher than among all American youths (82 percent). Young Latinos also said their parents emphasized the importance of attending college — some 77 percent said this was the first thing their parents encouraged them to do after high school.
But the Great Recession affected young Latino college graduates greatly. In the fourth quarter of 2007, the unemployment rate among 25 to 34 year old Latino college graduates was 2.9 percent. By the fourth quarter of 2010 it was 8.1 percent. In comparison, among non-Hispanic white college graduates, the unemployment rate increased more modestly, from 1.8 percent in 2007 to 3.8 percent in 2010. But Latino college graduates fared better than other Latinos. For example, among Latino high school graduates ages 25 to 34, the unemployment rate increased from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 12.1 percent in 2010.
While young Latinos value a college education, fewer than half expect to get a college degree. And when it comes to pursuing a degree, only 29 percent of Latinos ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college, with enrollment rates higher among the native born than among the foreign born — 36 percent versus 16 percent.
Economic pressures may be playing a role. When asked why they are not enrolled in school, the number one reason cited was a need to support family. Some 74 percent of young Latinos not enrolled in school said this. Even so, young Latinos are optimistic. According to our 2009 survey, 72 percent expect to be better off financially than their parents.
Last year’s census counted 50.5 million Latinos in the U.S., accounting for 16.3 percent of all Americans, but their share among the nation’s children is even greater: nearly 1 in 4 are Latino. By their sheer numbers alone, how these young people come of age will determine what kind of nation America will be in this century.