August 22, 2007


Latino Immigrants' Income Is Rising: Construction Boom Pushed Low-Paid Workers to Higher Earnings, Study Says (Krissah Williams and Sabrina Valle, 8/22/07, Washington Post)

Latino immigrants have steadily moved out of jobs paying the lowest wages and into middle-income employment in the past decade, helped by the boom in the construction industry, which hires millions of foreign-born workers, according to a study released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Recent Latino immigrants are moving up the ladder just as foreign-born workers did generations ago, said Rakesh Kochhar, author of the study.

"Foreign-born Latino workers are making progress, and if that appears contrary to our perception, it really has to do with the sheer growth in their numbers," Kochhar said. "Their numbers are so large that we are distracted. In relative terms, they are progressing out of the lowest-wage work and progressing toward middle-wage work."

Foreign-born Latino workers made up 36 percent of laborers earning less than $8.50 per hour in 2005, compared with 42 percent earning low wages in 1995, according to a Pew analysis of U.S. Census data. Kochhar said that the advancement of Latino immigrants to middle-income scale was faster than pay increases among native-born workers. He attributed Latino immigrants' rising incomes to the construction boom, which has since slowed down.

Even as many Latino immigrants moved up the pay scale, other foreigners replaced them at the bottom.

Those new folks are the ones the Latino middle class will want to keep out of the country in a few years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2007 2:11 PM
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