OMAHA – A study released today from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS) chronicles the current state of Mexican-origin residents of Nebraska, finding that while the numbers of immigrants moving into Nebraska has slowed in recent years, the population continues to grow and become more a part of the state’s demographic makeup.
The study, which was also funded in part by the Sherwood Foundation, examined more than a century of census data from the United States, finding that the more than 140,000 Mexican-origin residents in Nebraska as of 2012 has rapidly increased since 1910 when there were less than 300 Mexicans living across the state.
The two biggest jumps in population came between 1910 and 1930, which saw an increase from 299 residents to 6,321 residents, and between 1990 and 2000, which saw a jump from 29,665 residents to 70,525. Still, that number is only a little more than half of the 141,913 that currently exist in the state today.
"The report shows that the presence of the Mexican-origin population has a long history in Nebraska," explained Lissette Aliaga-Linares, OLLAS demographer and author of the report. "It is important to note that most of the growth of Mexican-origin population in the later decade is due to an increasing number of their U.S.-born children. The fact that they represent an important share of the state’s youth invites us to think about the legacy that this second generation will leave. The paths that we build today will certainly have an impact on the future of the state”.
Later today, OLLAS will host Omaha’s new Mexican consul, Guadalupe Sanchez Salazar, for a student luncheon. At the event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom, Salazar, the first woman to occupy this post,,will speak about her vision for the Mexican consulate’s engagement with the UNO and Mexican communities.
A preview of the OLLAS report highlights was published in the Consulate’s inaugural issue of its monthly bulleting. Salazar will be referring to some of the key findings throughout her conversation with the students. Among the main findings of the report are:
- Youth in the Mexican Population in Nebraska -
According to the report, the Mexican-origin population represents one of the youngest segments of Nebraska’s overall population with a median age of 22. Within that group, the U.S.-born Mexican American population is even younger, with a median age of just 13 and two-thirds of Mexican Americans under the age of 18.
- Increased Education in the Mexican Population in Nebraska -
Compared to U.S. Census numbers in 2000, which put the number of Mexicans in Nebraska seeking an education beyond high school at just 8 percent, now more than a quarter of the population (26 percent) is seeking continuing education after graduation.
- Higher Percentage of English Spoken in Households -
The number of Mexican households stating that they speak English well or very well increased from 61 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2012 and, today, around one-third of Mexican-origin households speak only English.
- Employment Issues for Mexicans Living in Nebraska -
Despite an increase in diversity of jobs being filled by Mexican-origin immigrants or Mexican Americans, the population still suffers from abnormally high levels of unemployment and abnormally low income levels. In 2012, the unemployment rate of Mexicans stands at 9 percent, compared to the 4 percent national unemployment rate. Additionally, the median household income for Mexican households was $39,587 compared to the statewide median of $51,217
In addition to today’s student luncheon, OLLAS will present its findings to groups of Nebraska citizens at several soon-to-be-announced public forums.
“While it is important to get this information out through our report, it is even more important to engage in a dialogue with the Nebraska community to discuss the study’s implications,” explained Lourdes Gouveia, director of OLLAS. “This focus on dialogue and engagement is aligned with OLLAS’ educational mission to fill a huge gap with regard to reliable information about the Latino community and the Mexican population in particular.”
The study can be read in its entirety at the OLLAS website at www.unomaha.edu/ollas.
For additional information, please contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at 402.554.2129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.