When Illegal Immigration Trends Converge
What happens if trends concerning (1) public school growth driven by illegal immigration, (2) the dropout rate for Hispanic students and (3) the projected U.S. demand for unskilled labor all converge? No one knows the answer, and few are even asking the question. First, here are the key trends.
"Among children, the share who are immigrants or who have an immigrant parent will rise to 34% in 2050 from 23% in 2005. The share of children who are Hispanic, 20% in 2005, will rise to 35% in 2050."
Question: Academically, how are Hispanic students doing?
Answer: Just fair - not great. The "Nations Report Card," compiled by the U.S. Department of Education, finds Hispanics doing slightly better than black students, and more than slightly worse that whites. From 2000-2005, 8th and 12th grade Hispanic students showed no improvement in science, and only slight increases in math and reading scores. For the last decade, they've remain positioned between white and black students in academic achievement.
Question: Are they finishing high school?
Answer. Most are - many are not. Hispanic students lead black and white students in dropout rates. In 2005, 3 of every 4 Hispanic dropouts were foreign born. The increase in Hispanic students, coupled with their dropout rate, contributed significantly to a decline in the high school completion rate from 77.1% in 1969 to 69.9% in 2000. This reversed an upward trend that dated back to 1870, begun shortly after the Civil War.
Question: Do Hispanic dropouts find work?
Answer: Most do - many do not. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 1 of every 3 Hispanics not enrolled in school when they were 20 years old in October during the years 2000-2005 was unemployed (33.1%). They face circumstances that all dropouts face. The Policy & Research Center of the Educational Testing Service (the Graduate Record Exam people) describes the situation this way:
"At the same time that the dropout rate is increasing and out-of-school education and training opportunities are dwindling, the economic status of young dropouts has been in a free fall since the late 1970s. Employment and earnings prospects have declined [over the last three decades], with earnings declining in absolute terms and also relative to the incomes of those with more education."
Answer: Not promising. From 2006-2016, the portion of Hispanics in the labor force is projected to grow from 13.7% to 16.4%. Meanwhile, the vocational supersectors expected to experience the greatest growth ("education and health services" and "professional and business services") will generally require, at a minimum, a high school education. Supersectors where unskilled Hispanics experience the highest level of employment today, construction and agriculture, are expected to grow a modest 10.6% and decline 2.8%, respectively.
"Demographic change has major implications for government spending in key areas such as schools, health programs, community services, infrastructure and Social Security."
"The United States cannot regain its competitive standing in the world by importing low wage workers from other countries. On the one hand, it engenders conditions this country cannot and should not tolerate...On the other hand, in the modern age a nation's wealth and prosperity is secured by high worker productivity and capital investment, not by the availability of low-wage labor." (p.71)
No, the author was former Minnesota Senator and once presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy, copyrighted 1992.