Puerto Ricans Have Higher Educational Attainment In New York City, But Large Gender Disparities In Occupations


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NEW YORK, December 7, 2022—A new report published today by the Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACLS) at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) shows that the proportion of Puerto Ricans enrolled in school increased from under 45% in 1990 to 54.4% in 2019. Women are earning degrees in larger proportions than men.

The report, titled “Education and Employment Trends among Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1990-2019,” compares educational attainment and occupations among this population, with a focus on race and gender disparities.

Puerto Ricans moved from occupations in natural resources, construction, and maintenance to work in management, business, science, and arts. Women are largely working in sales and office, and management occupations, while men are largely working in service.

“Despite these changes, Puerto Ricans reported earnings continue to lag behind the median income in New York for those in similar positions and degree level,” said Amber Grof, the author of the report. “Additionally, there are racial disparities in earnings within the Puerto Rican population. White Puerto Ricans that are in the same occupations and have the same degree levels as Black Puerto Ricans and Puerto Ricans of other races, reported significantly higher incomes.”

Other key findings:

• Median income among Puerto Ricans is well below the median income in NYC, across both educational attainment and employment. Puerto Ricans with a BA or higher had a median income of around $113,000, which was nearly $25,000 below the median income in NYC for people in the same educational category.

• Income disparities also exist among Puerto Ricans based on race. The median household income for white Puerto Ricans in 2019 was $67,666 compared to $46,828 among black Puerto Ricans.

• This report presents trends in poverty levels for the city of New York up to before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the moment of the pandemic was not available at the time of this analysis.

Contact Sebastián Villamizar-Santamaría, Director of Quantitative Research, for a PDF of the report at svillamizarsantamaria@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

About The Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies

The core mission of CLACLS is to actively support and advance the study of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinos in the U.S. in the doctoral programs of The Graduate Center, and to provide opportunities for Latino students at the Ph.D. level. CLACLS’s flagship program is the Latino Data Project, established in 2003 by Laird W. Bergad founding and current CLACLS director. Bergad is a distinguished professor in the Department of Latin American, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Lehman College and with the Ph.D. Program in History at The Graduate Center. The Latino Data Project conducts detailed quantitative research on the Latino population of the United States and New York City metropolitan region, analyzing raw data files produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

About The Graduate Center, CUNY

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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