Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Job Losses among Hispanics in the Recent Recession

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Job Losses among Hispanics in the Recent Recession

Article excerpt

Hispanic workers, particularly immigrants, incurred more involuntary separations during the 1990-92 recession than did non-Hispanic workers; lower levels of education accounted for some of this difference

Assessments of job losses during the recent recession consistently show that Hispanics were the biggest losers. For example, data from the 1992 Worker Displacement Survey reveal that the job displacement rate during the 5 years preceding the January 1992 interview was considerably higher for Hispanic workers (11.8 percent) than for either black (8.8 percent) or white (7.9 percent) workers.(1)

Among the reasons for this disparity were differences in the qualifications and skills of Hispanic, as opposed to non-Hispanic, workers. For example, in 1992, the fraction of 25- to 34-year olds who had failed to complete high school was 3 times as high among Hispanics than within the population as a whole (41.5 percent versus 13.5 percent). Compared with non-Hispanics, Hispanic workers were more likely to be younger, to work in less skilled occupations, and to be employed in industries that night make them more prone to experience job losses.(2)

In this article, we investigate the reasons for the higher rate of job losses incurred by Hispanics using a new data source on the longitudinal labor market experiences of Hispanic workers: the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Gathered in annual interviews between 1990 and 1992, the data in this study provide information on job losses among representative samples of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic workers. Compared with the Worker Displacement Survey, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics' annual interviewing cycle shortens the recall period over which job losses are reported, resulting in a greater likelihood of providing much more accurate reports of job losses. The Panel Study also affords a well-measured set of demographic and employment conditions prior to possible job loss, as well as yielding information on the immigration status of Hispanic workers.


Our data on Hispanics come from the Hispanic supplement to the Panel Study. In 1990, the study added a dwelling-based sample of Latino households interviewed in the summer of 1989 as part of the Latino National Political Survey.(3) The geographic areas covered by the sample included at least 90 percent of the populations of the three major Hispanic subgroups - Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Mexican American-with an oversampling of Cuban and Puerto Rican households.(4) Panel Study interviews with the sample from the Latino Survey, focusing on economic and demographic concerns, have been conducted every year from 1990 through 1994. We use data gathered in 1990, 1991, and 1992. (See box for further information on the Hispanic supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.)

Data on non-Hispanics come from the "core" Panel Study sample. Since 1968, the Panel Study has followed and interviewed annually a national sample that began with about 5,000 families. Low-income families were oversampled in the original design, and more than one-quarter of the families are black. When weighted, however, the sample is representative of the nonimmigrant population as a whole. Sample-following rules produce an unbiased sample of families each year, as new families formed by children leaving home or formed through divorce mirror similar changes taking place in the entire population. Thus, the panel continues to be representative with respect to its basic sampling design.

Immigrants to the United States are not represented in this dynamic sampling scheme, unless they become part of households included in the U.S. population prior to 1968. It was for this reason, as well as to supplement the relatively small numbers of nonimmigrant, native U.S. Hispanics in the original Panel Study sample, that the Hispanic supplement was added in 1990. Interviews are taken with the nominal head of each family, who is asked to provide extensive information about the family, including him- or herself. …

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