» Opinion » The Picayune Item: picayuneitem.com/opinion/x601173668/More-Hispanics…ality

Nine states, including Mississippi, saw their Hispanic population double over the last decade. Mississippi’s Hispanic population grew 105.9 percent between 2000 and 2010 with Hispanics now comprising 2.7 percent of the state’s total population. Those numbers also translate into Hispanic children comprising 2.2 percent of the state’s public K-12 student population as well, but only 1.1 percent of public college and university students.

Nationally, the NCSL report identifies that Hispanics”have the lowest educational attainment rate — only 19 percent of Latino adults have a college degree, compared to 42 percent of whites and 26 percent of African-American adults.” The report establishes that fact to be most prominent in states with large Hispanic populations like California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado.

Mississippi Hispanics have a higher education (four-year or two-year degrees) attainment rate of 18.2 percent compared to 33.8 percent for white Mississippians. The national average higher education attainment rate for Hispanics is 18.6 percent while for whites the percentage is 42.2 percent.

In a state where there is an unacceptably high dropout rate that impacts K-12 educational attainment for the whole of Mississippi’s population and higher education attainment trails the national average by more than 8 percent, low educational attainment by the state’s rapidly growing Hispanic population has one inevitable outcome: a steady increase in competition for low-skill, low-wage jobs.

Growing Mississippi demand for Hispanic labor in the construction and agricultural sectors is undeniable. From the poultry and timber industries to row crop production like sweet potatoes to the service and hospitality industry, the influx of Hispanic labor over the last decade has for many Mississippi counties been transformational.

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