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HISPANICS BECOME THE LARGEST MINORITY: Even as They Achieve New Status, Hispanics Continue to Battle High Dropout Rate

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Hispanics are now officially the nation’s largest minority group. According to new census figures, Hispanics accounted for half of the country’s population growth in the two years after the 2000 Census. In July 2002, 38.8 million Hispanics accounted for 13 percent of the nation’s total population. The figure for the total African-American population is 38.3 million. However, just a couple of weeks earlier, a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center pointed out some particularly troubling news for the newly crowned largest minority group-one of every three Hispanic youths in the United States is a high school dropout.

The Pew Hispanic Center report, Hispanic Youth Dropping Out of U.S. Schools: Measuring the Challenge, by Richard Fry suggests that while the dropout rate for U.S.-born Latino youths has slightly improved-from 15.2 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2000, fewer than half are employed. Meanwhile, Fry also found that 33 percent of the more than 500,000 foreign-born Hispanic dropouts currently living in the United States had little or no contact with American schools, and that about 80 percent of them are unable to speak English. However, immigrant dropouts have lower unemployment rates and higher wages than their U.S-born counterparts.

The complete Pew Hispanic Center report is available at: http://www.pewhispanic.org/site/docs/pdf/high%20school%20dropout%20report–final.pdf

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