Hispanics in the U.S. Labor Market: A Tale of Three Generations

45 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2018 Last revised: 4 Mar 2021

See all articles by Pia M. Orrenius

Pia M. Orrenius

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Agnes Scott College

Date Written: 2018-05-01


Immigrants’ descendants typically assimilate toward mainstream social and economic outcomes across generations. Hispanics in the United States are a possible exception to this pattern. Although there is a growing literature on intergenerational progress, or lack thereof, in education and earnings among Hispanics, there is little research on employment differences across immigrant generations. Using data from 1996 to 2017, this study reveals considerable differences in Hispanics’ employment rates across immigrant generations. Hispanic immigrant men tend to have higher employment rates than non-Hispanic whites and second- and third-plus generation Hispanics. Hispanic immigrant women have much lower employment rates, but employment rates rise considerably in the second generation. Nonetheless, U.S.-born Hispanic women are less likely than non-Hispanic white women to work. The evidence thus suggests segmented assimilation, in which the descendants of Hispanic immigrants have worse outcomes across generations. While relatively low education levels do not appear to hamper Hispanic immigrants’ employment, they play a key role in explaining low levels of employment among Hispanic immigrants’ descendants. Race and selective ethnic attrition may also contribute to some of the patterns uncovered here.

Keywords: Hispanics, immigrant generations, assimilation

JEL Classification: E24, J11, J15

Suggested Citation

Orrenius, Pia M. and Zavodny, Madeline, Hispanics in the U.S. Labor Market: A Tale of Three Generations (2018-05-01). FRB of Dallas Working Paper No. 1809, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3225737 or http://dx.doi.org/10.24149/wp1809

Pia M. Orrenius (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ( email )

PO Box 655906
Dallas, TX 75265-5906
United States
214-922-5747 (Phone)
214-922-5194 (Fax)

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida ( email )

4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072

Agnes Scott College ( email )

United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics