In the U.S. Hispanic Labor Force, Women Surpass Men in Multiple Ways
- In terms of education, female Hispanic workers have advanced at a faster pace than their male counterparts.
- In terms of jobs, female Hispanic workers have a stronger presence in higher-paying occupations than do male Hispanic workers.
- The advantage of female Hispanic workers is particularly high in professional occupations, where their presence almost doubles that of their male counterparts.
An examination of Hispanics in the U.S. labor force shows that women have an advantage over their male counterparts in educational attainment and in their presence in professional occupations. Albeit in line with the gender differences for the overall U.S. labor force,See Monge-Naranjo and Vizcaino. some of the gender differences within the Hispanic workforce are quite remarkable. In particular, Hispanic women with college education substantially outnumber their male counterparts. Much more dramatic, the share of Hispanic female workers in professional occupations almost doubles that of their male counterparts.
For this article, we used individual-level data on the gender, educational level and current occupation of self-declared Hispanic workers from the IPUMS USA data set.See IPUMS USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org. We discarded individuals whose employment status is unknown and those who are unemployed or not in the labor force, as classified by the variable EMPSTAT codes 0, 2 and 3. As reported in our article in the last issue of the Regional Economist, the percentage of U.S. residents who identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino has grown dramatically—more than eight times—within the past seven decades. Hispanic workers represented almost 13.4 percent (1 in 7.5) of all the workers in 2016 from just 1.6 percent (1 in 62.5) in 1950. How this growing presence is split between the two genders is the focus of this article.
Differences in Education
The IPUMS USA database can be used to classify workers according to 11 educational attainment categories. For tractability, we grouped these categories into five broader groups: primary school or less (i.e., nursery school through eighth grade), secondary incomplete (i.e., ninth to 11th grade), secondary complete (i.e., 12th grade), college incomplete (i.e., one to three years of college), and college complete or more (i.e., four or more years of higher education).
Figure 1 summarizes the changes in the educational attainment of Hispanic workers, both male and female from 1960 to 2016. Noticeably, when we look at individuals with primary complete or less and secondary incomplete (our two lower education groups), female and male workers have behaved similarly, as both genders have reduced their presence by similar fractions.
A very interesting difference is evident in the behavior for the higher levels of education. Looking at workers with incomplete college, we observe that Hispanic male workers moved from 4 percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2016, almost four times higher. This improvement is nonetheless dwarfed by the advancement of Hispanic female workers, who experienced a sixfold increase, from 3 percent to 18 percent. Female Hispanic workers exhibited the same advancement in terms of the share with complete college or more: 2 percent in 1960 to 12 percent in 2016. This growth is twice as high as the growth exhibited for male Hispanic workers, from 3 percent to 9 percent during the same period. One simple way to summarize the difference as of 2016 is to say that the women-to-men ratio of Hispanic workers with university degrees is 4-to-3.
Differences in Occupations
The IPUMS data set also allows us to group workers according to broad occupational groups. Specifically, IPUMS USA uses the 1950 Census Bureau occupational classification, aggregating three-digit occupations into the following nine broad groups, ordered by their skill intensity:Skill intensity is measured by the percentage of workers in an occupation with the highest year of school degree completed in 1950 being college or more. Thus, the higher the percentage of workers in an occupation with at least a college degree in 1950, the more skill-intensive an occupation is. The order of the top four occupations is preserved if we use 2016 instead of 1950 to measure skill intensity. professional and technical workers; managers, officials and proprietors; sales workers; clerical and kindred; craftsmen; service workers; operatives; farmers and farm laborers; and unskilled laborers.Observations of individuals with unclassified, missing or unknown occupations are discarded.
Figure 2 shows the share of female and male Hispanic workers across these occupations, comparing the years 1960, 1980 and 2016. First of all, notice that there are important differences between the genders that are sustained over time. Some occupations, such as laborers and craftsmen, are traditionally dominated by males, while other occupations, such as clerical and service workers, are traditionally held by female workers. The differences observed for Hispanic workers are in line with those observed for the overall population of workers in the U.S. We can also observe a clear, decreasing trend in lower-skill occupations such as farmers and laborers, except that for laborers, the male participation rebounded between 1980 and 2016.
Of more interest, we observe very clear and strong trends in the two occupation categories that are higher paid: professionals and managers. The share of male and female Hispanic workers in those occupations has increased. For managerial occupations, women are closing the gap relative to their male counterparts: In 1960, about 5.25 percent of all the Hispanic male workers were managers, and that percentage doubled to 10.65 percent in 2016. For Hispanic female workers, the equivalent percentage more than doubled, from just 2.27 percent to 9.44 percent, almost a fourfold increase.
While the gender gap in managerial positions has almost closed, the most remarkable difference is with respect to professional positions, in which women have clearly dominated men. As of 2016, 19.1 percent of all Hispanic female workers were in professional occupations, which is almost twice as high as the equivalent percentage for men, only 10.6 percent.
All in all, women are the ones pushing forward the advancement of Hispanic workers in the education and occupation ladders in the U.S. marketplace.
Juan Ignacio Vizcaino is a Ph.D. student in economics at Washington University in St. Louis.
Research assistance was provided by Qiuhan Sun, a research associate at the St. Louis Fed.
- See Monge-Naranjo and Vizcaino.
- See IPUMS USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org. We discarded individuals whose employment status is unknown and those who are unemployed or not in the labor force, as classified by the variable EMPSTAT codes 0, 2 and 3.
- Skill intensity is measured by the percentage of workers in an occupation with the highest year of school degree completed in 1950 being college or more. Thus, the higher the percentage of workers in an occupation with at least a college degree in 1950, the more skill-intensive an occupation is. The order of the top four occupations is preserved if we use 2016 instead of 1950 to measure skill intensity.
- Observations of individuals with unclassified, missing or unknown occupations are discarded.
Ruggles, Steven; Genadek, Katie; Goeken, Ronald; Grover, Josiah; and Sobek, Matthew. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series [IPUMS] USA: Version 6.0 [data set]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2015. See http://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V6.0
Monge-Naranjo, Alexander; and Vizcaino, Juan Ignacio. Hispanics and Their Contribution to America’s Human Capital. Regional Economist, Second Quarter 2018, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp 4-9.