National Council of La Raza Releases Report on Economic Condition of Florida’s Growing Latino Population

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research & Evaluation Analyst, Helios Education Foundation

June 16, 2016

Florida currently ranks third in the nation for Latino population size, with approximately one in four residents identifying as Hispanic/Latino. Furthermore, the state’s Latino population is expected to grow quickly with Florida reaching majority-minority status by 2028.

Tracking economic indicators, such as education, wealth, and labor participation, is vital in predicting education and economic trends and informing policy. Given Florida’s rapidly changing demographics, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) recently explored how Hispanic Floridians are faring in their newly released report.  The report includes both encouraging and sobering statistics, with select economic indicators highlighted below:

Achievement gaps persist between Hispanic students and their White peers.
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, a higher percentage of Florida Hispanic fourth-graders read proficiently compared to their national Hispanic peer group in 2015 (34% vs. 21%, respectively). At the same time, the achievement gap in reading between Florida White and Hispanic fourth-graders has widened across time, with a 15 percent gap in 2015.

Hispanics have shown significant gains in postsecondary degree attainment.
On a positive note, Hispanic adults 25 years of age and older have shown a greater increase in the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or higher from 2010 to 2014 compared to the state overall (an increase of 21.9% vs. 13.6%, respectively). Additionally, Latino associate degree attainment jumped 30 percent over this same timeframe.

Latino labor force participation and business ownership trends are promising.
Data indicate that Latinos are showing higher labor participation rates and are opening businesses more frequently. Latinos have reached a higher labor force participation rate than Florida overall (63.9% vs. 60.6%, respectively). Additionally, Hispanics now own approximately one-third of businesses, with a 34 percent increase in ownership from 2007 to 2012.

A sharp contrast exists in poverty rate, median household income and wealth among Latinos and Whites.
Despite positive growth in postsecondary degree attainment, business ownership and labor force participation, the poverty rate of Florida Latinos (21.7%) is almost twice that of Whites residents (12%). Furthermore, a stark contrast in wealth persists in the Sunshine State: In 2011, the median net worth of a Hispanic household was only $6,337 compared to $100,370 for Whites. Since the great recession, Hispanics have experienced a decrease of $1,191 in annual median household income and earn on average almost $10,000 less than Whites.

"At Helios we believe in the power of education, and the positive impact it can have on individuals and communities is indisputable”, said Braulio Colón, Vice President of Florida Student Success Initiatives.  “This report underscores the tremendous progress Hispanics in Florida have made in educational attainment, but it also leverages state-level data to shine a light on specific economic and education gaps that must be addressed systemically if Florida is going to reap the full benefits of a highly-educated 21st century workforce."

Helios Education Foundation utilizes metrics such as these to inform its strategic partnerships and investments in the state of Florida.  The foundation believes that by increasing equity and closing achievement gaps, individuals will be better prepared to succeed in college and enter the workforce ready to compete in a global economy. 

To see the report including all economic indicators and associated recommendations, click here.

Category: Education Issues

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