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Hispanic Share of US Labor Force up 8-Fold 1950-2016

September 10, 2018

The share of Hispanics in the US labor force increased eight-fold between 1970 and 2016, from less than two percent to over 13 percent. Growth was fastest for farmers and farm laborers: the Hispanic share of workers in this occupation rose almost 14 times, from less than two percent to 25 percent.

The share of Hispanics in low-skill occupations rose fastest, which helps to explain why the earnings of Hispanics relative to non-Hispanics fell from 85 percent to 70 percent between 1950 and 2016.

One reason for the widening wage gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers is the gap in education levels. Many Hispanics do not complete high school, almost 40 percent in 2016, compared with 15 percent of non-Hispanics. A quarter of non-Hispanics completed college, compared with less than 10 percent of Hispanics. Among Hispanics who completed college, a higher share are women than men.

The points below are from the St. Lous Fed:

  • The share of Hispanics in the US labor force increased 8-fold between 1950 and 2016
  • The share of Hispanics in low-skill occupations rose fastest
  • The relative earnings of Hispanics fell as their share of the labor force increased
  • Some 40 percent of Hispanics in 2016 did not complete high school