It’s not looking as good as it should.
Data from a variety of state and federal sources show the Hispanic population in Texas is economically stagnating and may be falling behind Latinos in other parts of the United States:
• • Texas Hispanics not only make less money than Anglos, they make less money than Hispanics living in other states. The wage gap is broadest for Hispanics living on the border with Mexico, according to a report of Southwest Economy published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
• • Hispanics make up a third of the manual laborers in Texas. But U.S. Census statistics show that even in construction trades Hispanics account for less than a fifth of skilled labor, such as an electrician.
• • In February, 34 percent of all Texans receiving unemployment payments from the Texas Workforce Commission were Hispanic. The payments are not available for undocumented workers.
• • Texas native-born Hispanics have a higher high school dropout rate and a lower level of college attainment than those living in other states, Southwest Economy reported. The attrition rate among Hispanic high school students was 42 percent last year.
• • Hispanic girls accounted for 62 percent of all births to teen mothers in 2006, the most recent year reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.
The good news is that if you equalize for education, Hispanics earn about as much as Anglos. The problem, of course, is that Hispanics aren’t doing nearly as well educationally, especially in terms of the dropout rate. And as things stand now, we’re not going to do anything about that next session, and as long as we’re in denial about the underlying financial situation, we’re not in a position to do anything about it any time soon. Once again, here’s former state demographer Steve Murdock:
By 23 or 24, we’re talking about three out of every four Texas workers being non-Anglo. I like to say, well, if I, as an aging Anglo, forget that the quality of services I’m going to have—fire, police, and other services—depend on how well primarily the working-age population is doing, I really do so to my own detriment. Our fates are intertwined and related. How well our non-Anglo citizens do in Texas is how well Texas will do.
It’s everybody’s future we’re talking about. What do we want to make of it?