Hispanic heritage: Latinos and the U.S. workforce
Since 1968, the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month has provided us with an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments that Hispanics have achieved in America and on the contributions they have made to the nation. The result has been a greater awareness of the extent to which, from coast to coast, Hispanics are and have played a key role in the building of the American experience.
Besides the strong cultural influences on our country, Hispanics have a long history as important members of the U.S. workforce. That has never been truer than it is today. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Latino men have the highest workforce participation rate of any group.
The history of Hispanics in the U.S. dates back to the 1800’s when Mexicans migrated in large numbers to help construct the railroad lines connecting Mexico and the U.S. Most of the railway work crews at the time were Mexican. Since then, Hispanics have been an integral part of the U.S. workforce in agriculture, fisheries and a wide range of service industries.
The extent to which Hispanic labor is critical today was recently revealed when public policies caused a mass exodus of Hispanic immigrants, costing Georgia’s agricultural industry $140 million.
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