Labor market fact of the day

Although Latinos make up only a seventh of the population, they have “racked up half the employment gains posted since the economy began adding jobs in early 2010”, the Los Angeles Times reported this morning. In 2011, the trend accelerated. Of the 2.3 million jobs added in 2011 according to the Household Survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.4 million, or 60 percent, were won by Latinos.

This remarkable statistic is a keyhole into America’s two-speed recovery. One true story of the recession is that employment gains have been biased toward the highly educated. More than half of the jobs added in 2011 went to Americans with a college education. Another true story of the recession is that most of the other jobs have been low-paid and went to the less-educated. Educational attainment among Hispanics remains very low. Just 10% of foreign-born and 13.5% of native Latinos have finished college, placing the group’s completion rate at about a third of the national average.

That is from Derek Thompson, there is much more here.  Here is one piece of the explanation:

Finally, it’s not just where they’re working. It’s where they’re not working. As a group, Hispanics have low employment in local, state, and federal governments, which lost about 300,000 jobs in 2011, the vast majority of net job losses last year. The upshot is that Hispanics are growing as a population faster than other groups; more likely to work in states with growing jobs, such as Texas; more likely to seek out low-wage positions in health care and hospitality that are fast-growing industries; and less likely to be sitting in the way of the austerity bulldozer that took down total government in 2011.


So basically if you're not on track to getting a PhD from a top 10 school you might as well drop out at the 10th grade.

Yep. That's the lesson here. You're very astute.

Extending CBBB's idea, how many years would it take the top 10 schools to churn out 1.15 million PhD's?

Kurt Vonnegut saw this in the 1940's when he wrote Player Piano, I hope noone pissed off the Phys-Ed teacher in college!

Player Piano is a novel that really should get more attention (and its very different from what we think of as typical Vonnegut). Its view of the future is holding up increasingly well, certainly much better than the norm for science fiction.

Yale or jail!

less likely to be sitting in the way of the austerity bulldozer that took down total government in 2011.

Another way of putting it is "less likely to be sitting in the way of the insistence on not cutting excess wages and benefits, unlike the private sector which saw a lot of that." After all, Wisconsin had austerity in its budget, but their employment of teachers is up, not down like the states that insisted on retaining collective bargaining for public employees. The immediate effect of the reforms there were for school districts to cancel layoffs and hire more teachers.

It's not austerity per se, it's that (Nominal and otherwise) GDP hasn't been growing, so if public employees insist on their raises, there will be less of them. That's the effect of public employees getting paid more than private sector equivalents. Personally, I think that when unemployment is high, it makes sense to hire more at fairer (lower) total compensation. But the unions would rather less be employed making more.

Hoo-boy, the HBD blogosphere is going to have a grand old time with this.

Is that a thing?

"Of the 2.3 million jobs added in 2011...60 percent, were won by Latinos."

"More than half of the jobs added in 2011 went to Americans with a college education."

"Just 10% of foreign-born and 13.5% of native Latinos have finished college"


I was confused too. But it's quite possible for them to be consistent. Say there are about 50 million Latinos (source:, about 12% percent of whom have a college degree. That's 6 million Latinos with college degrees. With that many people, it's easily possible for the other two claims to hold.

Oh...right. That makes sense.

The trick is the number of jobs added compared to the total working age population was quite small. So its statistically possible for all of them to go to some weird combination of subgroups, this could even happen do to random factors.

Really the lesson to take away is the relatively small number of jobs created, not who happened to get them. Its like trying to prove that lottery winners as a group share certain characteristics.

When we lost jobs during the Recession did the Latinos lose more than the average too? That'd explain part of this ( if true ).

Also, it seems reasonable to believe that Latinos are more location and sector flexible; they'll be more likely to move where the jobs are (especially if they are recent immigrants). I also wonder what fraction of this is illegals / visa holders; they might have a lower reservation wage in the absence of the luxury of the safety nets that natives get.

For Latinos that worked in construction this is undeniably true (greater job losses in the recent downturn)

The author explains/supports a couple of your points.

Second Brandon Berg-- the numbers don't add up.

However, as Edwin Rubinstein over at has shown, jobs really are going to latinos and immigrants (many of them illegal).

One important reason for this is a kind of "path dependence." Once a portion of the workforce (say, the kitchen staff) is composed of Spanish-speakers, it's very hard for an monoglot American to get hired. All the front-line supervisors have to be bilingual, and they hire Spanish speaking workers by preference, partly to improve workforce efficiency and partly out of predjudice.

Yes, there has been outrage (real or purported) about Englishmen being turned down for jobs in England in firms where the labour force is mainly or entirely Polish.

Bilingual front-line supervisors or foremen also guard their own jobs by hiring non-English-speakers-- the more foreign-language-only workers a firm hires, the harder it will be for the firm to replace a bilingual supervisor with a native-language only candidate, boosting bilingual supervisors' pay. So hiring immigrants is a form of peculation practiced by bilingual supervisors-- it diverts money from the firm's profits into (only) bilingual supervisors' pockets.

Learned a new word today! (peculation)

Wouldn't they need supervisors anyway?, bilingual or no? How is it diverting money from profits?

I wonder how much this ties into the Charles Murray conversation. I was told by a construction manager in Arizona that it was very hard to find decent workers outside of the hispanic population. And I don't think it's entirely the result of low wages. He couldn't find people who would work in that industry with the character to simply show up on time, dependably. At the height of the construction boom, I saw a guy at a construction site with an obscenity tatooed on his neck. I suspect that he's not having as much luck finding work now.

I say, line 100 people up at random, and there will be at least 20 of them who would exhibit such dysfunctionality that I would not be willing to work with them at any price. For many people, I'd probably be one of the 20. One of the miracles of modern markets is that most of the time, almost all 100 do have employment. The trick is having an economy where we are productive, despite ourselves.

This is a real problem, and it's a problem that is hard to address when discourse is so muddied with the noble savage notion. Today that notion is applied to low income households in general, so that if you try to address the issue as anything other than a Dorothea Lange scene, you risk being pilloried as a troglodyte.

An awesome turn of phrase: "pilloried as a troglodyte". Last used by Disraeli I think. :-)

But it's because these companies don't want to PAY more. When demand for labour rises wages are supposed to also rise, all else equal - but these employers have somehow got it in their head that supply and demand ought not to apply to workers so they should never have to raise pay.

They don't have to raise pay. They just import more workers.

The workers import themselves. If you offer a wage and dependable people show up to take the job, you don't just turn them away because they're brown and offer more so you can get white people.

My cousin has run a construction business for the last 20 years and ever since he started it I've heard nothing but praise for how hard Latinos work compared to everyone else he has hired.

I'm just so grateful that there are no costs being socialized while your cousin reaps the profits from an expanded pool of laborers who don't speak English or have health insurance. Immigration really is win-win all around. Smart, innovation-renaissance countries like Israel, Switzerland, Canada, Dubai and others all recognize this. You just walk right in and start working.


Employers: WIN!
Immigrants: WIN!
Taxpayers and people who compete with immigrants for jobs: (lose)
People who prefer living in a society more like Minnesota than a society like Mexico: (lose)

Immigration-heavy labor markets are where the hard-right free-market types run aground. God forbid the state get in the way of any business owners, except with respect to the nationality (race) of whom they hire.

It makes one wonder what it is about immigrants that makes them eager to have all (domestic) workers covered by health care and get paid a minimum wage.

The Anti-Gnostic, your points are all red herrings:
-They speak English
-Their health insurance situation is no different than it would be for domestic workers
-They pay taxes

Argue all you want about immigration reform. I might even agree with you on it. Heck, my cousin very likely will agree with you too because he's a Republican in S. Carolina.

But spare us the self righteousness in suggesting he's obligated to hire inferior domestic talent.

Some original devastation from Original D.


Our immigration policy, in its majestic equality, permits the construction company owner and unemployed construction worker alike to enjoy the benefits of "vibrant diversity".

Again, congratulations to your cousin for hiring what I'm sure just has to be a net-tax paying class of people with zero social costs.

Net tax-paying these people?

It's a lot simpler to just tell us you don't like brown people.

I like brown people just fine, in small doses. But after a point not even brown people want to stay in a country with lots of brown people.

Here's something you can just come out and say: why bother with a nation-state and a border? Let immigration be governed by private property and contract rather than unionized bureaucrats, Title VII and birthright citizenship. Of course, you'll have to give up the massive, tax-funded social engineering and compulsory association.


I'll just say that there's some very thoughtful discussions out there about the benefits of not having nation-states be the organizing principle of the species. Not sure I agree with all of the arguments, but the discussions bring up some interesting points.

But I wouldn't expect someone who wrote "I like brown people just fine, in small doses" to be even remotely worth discussing it with.

I hope you learn to rise above your hate. Last word is yours.

"But I wouldn’t expect someone who wrote “I like brown people just fine, in small doses” to be even remotely worth discussing it with. I hope you learn to rise above your hate. Last word is yours."

This is emotion, not logic. We know that people--even brown people--are voting with their feet for countries with white majorities. We know that people pay thousands of dollars more for a house with white neighbors. We know that the gushiest white liberals out there will make a beeline for school districts with lots of whites and Orientals and the Huxtable family and brag about 'diversity.'

How easy has it been to manage social conflict and raise the living standards of the last batch of dark-skinned serfs we imported? Well, here we go again.

God this is rich. Why did the Germans and Irish come here? There are plenty of white people where they came from.

We could do an experiment like, give Third Worlders the ability to run their own countries and see what they make of it. Tenured economists would relocate en masse to Honduras. Apple would move its campus to Guatemala. Why wait on immigrants to come to you to trim the topiaries and spread pine straw? All that talent will be right there for the picking.

We could also perform a survey: where do German and Irish immigrants move to? Obviously, it would be to East LA and Little Haiti because hey, immigrants are immigrants.

The numbers easily add up.

2.3 M jobs added.
1.2 M jobs required college education (says more than half)
1.1 M jobs did not
Latinos got 60% of the jobs, for 1.38M
Latinos make up 1/7 of the popultion, or roughly 43M in the U.S.
If Latinos got all of the college requiring jobs, that'd only represent 2.8% of the Latino population. But more likely they only got a portion of them.

Somewhere over the horizon a distant thunder rumbles, growing ever closer...Hurricane Steve will be upon us soon

:) +1

This post = ideal Steve bait.

"The cloud no bigger than a man's hand, that can so rapidly overcast the sky" will be when it turns out sheetrock hangers don't pay nearly enough taxes to bail out all the stupid old white people. And then we'll find out that sheetrock hangers get old and sick too.

Friedman and Brooks are already panicking, praying to the education gods to shower us with Mesoamerican neurosurgeons and computer engineers.

Yeah, baby! (Note: You could start importing cheap Cuban doctors tomorrow. I even know some. And I'd love to poke said stick in that fat moron Moore's eye...)

And if we won't let them practice medicine, they can sell cars, like Rudy (I understand he is now out of business):

"I want to liberate this Chevy Impala from the car lot!"

He is f*ing awesome. I need to go freedomize something.

This is a nonstarter. The entire difference is in the population adjustment that is done in the household survey. Basically the census found 1.4 million people, of those the normal proportion were employed (about 60%), resulting in a one month gain of 800k jobs for Latinos in January 2012. This did not happen, it is just a statistical result of the population adjustment. To get a sense of the hilarity of there being news stories about this non issue you should think about what would be implied for the unemployment rate in January had 800k Latinos gained jobs without also finding a large number of additional previously uncounted people. This would have been a huge drop in unemployment (on the order of 3%). Instead unemployment for Latinos actually rose in January.

No, it not the January employment adjustment.

If you go read the article you see that they used data through December 2011, not through Jan 2012.

Their explanation that it is the rapid growth of low paid jobs like healthcare and hospitably makes more sense.

The article may say that but it isn't correct. The Atlantic article cites a 2.3 Million annual increase in employment, that figure is a Year-to-Year change in total employed population for January from the report that was released just prior to this article. The December to December from the prior month showed a 1.6 million annual increase. The January to January figure for Latinos for employment was 1.4 million, in December it has been 0.8 million. Even the figures prior to January are biased and should not be used this way.

One way to get at the fundamentals is to look at the unemployment rate. In January 2011 it was 12.0% for Latinos, in January 2012 it was 10.5%, an impressive improvement, but not what would be implied by Latinos capturing 50% of all job gains in 2011. For comparison the January 2011 population wide unemployment rate was 9.1%, and was 8.3% in January 2012.

Finally, the same data that show the employment for the Latino population rose by 1.4 million also shows the population for Latinos for over that same period growing by 2.3 million. If this figure were true there would be 900k new unemployed Latinos. Once again this is a numbers problem stemming from an adjustment in the census counting of number of Latinos. Same thing happened following the 1990 census and the 2000 census.

This analysis looks correct except the bit about "900k new unemployed Latinos" because children don't count as unemployed.

"austerity bulldozer" LMAO

Why can't the austerity bulldozer hit George Mason?

I guess it is the speedbump of tenure.

Other government employees should demand tenure like academics.

Then, if they had tenure, they too could tell the others how easy the economy would adjust if the other person would just take a pay cut.

Since the day George W. Bush became President, Hispanic employment is up 35%, while non-Hispanic employment (all races) is down 1%.

Heckuva job, Bushie!

Edwin S. Rubenstein breathes this topic.
In April 2010 wrote:
"BLS statistics reveal that some 63% of jobs created since 1997 went to foreign-born workers...two-thirds of new jobs"

How much does the ability to lean on the welfare state play a role? If you're a non-citizen, it's sink or swim. There's no unemployment check or food stamps, and thus, a greater willingness to accept a lower wage.

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