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2011.01.31 > For Immediate Release
contact: Tim Kaldahl - University Relations
phone: 402.554.3502 - email: tkldahl@unomaha.edu

OLLAS Announces New Report on Socio-Economic Trends

Omaha - The Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) recently issued its second report in a data series focusing on the Latino and foreign-born population in Nebraska. The publication – Nebraska’s Foreign Born and Hispanic/Latino Population: Socio-Economic Trends, 2009 – is produced by Lourdes Gouveia, OLLAS director, and Yuriko Doku, OLLAS research assistant.

“It is our hope that this new report will serve as a reference tool for community organizations, policy makers, students and scholars across the state,” Gouveia said. The 43-page report, based on the 2009 American Community Survey and complementary U.S. Census information, is available to download as a PDF at www.unomaha.edu/ollas.

A few of the report’s highlights:

* Despite large numbers of foreign-born adults without a high school education, the majority of Nebraska immigrants (51.5%) do have at least a high school diploma; and the percentage of those with a graduate or professional degree (8.9%) is the same as that of the native born.

* Professional and highly skilled migrants are concentrated in Nebraska’s largest metropolitan areas, home to corporate headquarters and the state’s largest universities (e.g. Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney). Their numbers are less prominent in smaller and non-metro communities such as Fremont or Lexington.

*Nebraska immigrants can be found at each rung of the occupational ladder. However, Latino immigrants in Nebraska, and in Douglas County specifically, are heavily concentrated in the lower-skilled and lower-paid job categories. These jobs are mostly found in two categories, construction and manufacturing, which includes meatpacking. While only 20% of Nebraskans born in the U.S. work in these job categories, 49% of immigrants, and nearly 63% of Latino immigrants, are found in those two occupational categories. The majority of these workers are male.

* In general, the percentage of Latinos found in higher-paid management and professional occupations stood at 7.4% in 2009, a number little changed from the previous 10 years. These percentages tend to be higher in larger metropolitan areas such as Omaha.

* The demand for lower-educated, low-wage labor continues to be a major force behind immigration to Nebraska. In the state, 48.5% of the adult foreign-born and 69% of the adult Latino foreign-born population lack a high school degree.

* Judging from the Omaha unemployment figures, unemployment among Latina women as a whole during 2006-2008 was nearly three times as high as that of Latino men in the city. It is unclear how Latina women fared during the recession.

* The lack of health insurance among the foreign born and within the Latino population is significant. In 2009, the respective rates for those groups were 40% and 31%.

The report also provides information and perspective on median household incomes, labor force participation rates, English language proficiency, military service and other socio-economic issues.

“The importance of statewide immigration issues will continue to increase in the coming years,” Gouveia said. “We hope this data series will be helpful to everyone who reads and uses it. Solid research and facts are the building blocks of smarter laws and policies. ”

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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