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50+ Hispanic Workers: A Growing Segment of the U.S. Workforce

Hispanics represent one of the fastest growing segments of the older population, and thus could be an important target for employer efforts to attract and retain older workers. This report examines older Hispanic workers and the contributions they make to employers and the economy. It describes the older Hispanic population and documents the work experiences of older Hispanics—the number and share that are employed, where they work, and how much they earn—and their attitudes toward work.

The portrait of older Hispanic workers that emerges from this overview shows a group that should appeal to many employers, yet faces significant labor market challenges. Older Hispanics participate in the labor force at relatively high rates and work in a wide range of occupations and industries, although Hispanic men are disproportionately represented in construction. Survey results for older Hispanic workers indicate that they are dependable, in that they rarely miss work. The vast majority report that they enjoy their jobs, suggesting that they are engaged and productive employees. Many are also fluent in English as well as Spanish, which makes them valuable employees to companies hoping to benefit from the purchasing power of the growing Hispanic market.

Nonetheless, many older Hispanics face substantial challenges in the workplace. They earn low wages and few benefits. In fact, their relatively strong attendance records may partially reflect an inability to afford time off due to lower wages and less access to paid leave. They also tend to work in physically demanding jobs that are often difficult to maintain into later life. Finally, the 2007-2009 recession, which has reduced employment rates and earnings for all groups, has hit older Hispanics especially hard.

The report's discussion of approaches to increase employment prospects for older Hispanics focuses on employer practices as well as policy options. Issues addressed include training, flexibility, caregiving, recruitment strategies, and workplace culture.

The report was prepared for AARP by The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. Subject-matter experts from the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California, and other organizations provided recommendations concerning the report.

S. Kathi Brown, Senior Research Advisor, AARP Strategic Issues Research, managed this project and may be contacted at 202-434-6296 with questions. Members of the media should direct questions to Dave Nathan of AARP's Media Relations Department at 202-434-2560. (77 pages)