Contact: Anne Canty, Columbia Embargoed for release
(212) 854-5579 6 A.M., Monday, Nov. 10, 1997
Charles DeCicco, City College
Dominican New Yorkers Losing Economic Ground;
Education is Key to Progress, Researchers Say
The income of Dominicans living in New York City declined by close to 23
percent between 1990 and 1996, according to Dominican New Yorkers: A
Socioeconomic Profile, 1997, a study issued today by the City University of New
York's Dominican Studies Institute at City College and Columbia University's
Latino Studies Program.
Analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the study found
that the income of the Dominican population was the lowest of all the major racial
and ethnic groups in New York City; that the community's unemployment rate
has shot up to 19 percent; and that at 45 percent, the percentage of Dominicans
living below the poverty line is more than double the city's overall average.
The study was co-authored by Ramona Hernandez, Professor at the
University of Massachusetts-Boston and researcher at the CUNY Dominican
Studies Institute at City College; and Francisco Rivera-Batiz, Director of
Columbia University's Latino Studies Program and Professor of Economics and
Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.
The report paints a dismal picture of the socioeconomic situation of Latinos
in New York City. "The nineties have been the equivalent of the Titanic for
Latinos and African-Americans in New York City," said Francisco Rivera-Batiz.
"Although the decade of the eighties had resulted in significant economic gains,
these have been largely reversed in the last seven years."
At 495,000, Dominicans have been the city's fastest growing ethnic group in
the 90s, now ranking behind Puerto Ricans as the second largest Hispanic group.
This population increase - largely a result of immigration - has resulted in as
many as 104,000 new students in the city's public school system.
Many of the reasons for the severe decline in the economic health of the
Dominican community can be tied to its heavy reliance on the shrinking
manufacturing sector; more than 25 percent of the Dominican labor force is
employed in manufacturing. "The economic recession of the late 80s and early
90s has impacted the Dominican population in an extremely negative way,"
Professor Ramona Hernandez said. "The low and declining earnings of unskilled
workers in New York constitute a formidable barrier for the Dominican
population. And the decline of manufacturing as a sector of employment has had
a devastating impact on Dominican workers."
Another issue addressed by the report is the under-representation of
Dominicans in New York City's public sector workforce. Only 2 percent of the
municipal workforce is Dominican, yet they are 5 percent of the City's population.
Silvio Torres-Saillant, Director of CUNY's Dominican Studies Institute at CCNY,
sees a need for greater access to the public sector for the Dominican community.
"Less than 10 percent of all Dominican workers were employed in the public
sector in 1990, compared to over 17 percent for the rest of the population. The
absence of Dominican workers in government employment should be a matter of
immediate attention to policymakers in the City."
Dominicans in New York are also adversely affected by their comparatively
low educational attainment. In 1996, as many as 54.7 percent of all Dominican
New Yorkers 25 years of age or older had not completed high school; only 4% had
completed college. Overall, 27 percent of New Yorkers age 25 or older have
Barring a shift in the economy over the next few years, improving the
economic condition of New York's Dominican community will require substantial
investments in education. The report recommends developing strategies to
address school overcrowding and the special needs of immigrant children and,
for adults, providing job training and classes in literacy and English proficiency.
Despite relatively low educational attainment rates and the challenges
presented by overcrowding in the public schools, education is the subject of one of
the report's few optimistic findings. According to the profile, most Dominican
children in public schools are highly motivated. In a survey of students in New
York City public schools, 69.4 percent of Dominican children indicated that their
classes were "very interesting," compared to 49 percent of non-Dominican
students. In addition, 93 percent of Dominican students saw schooling as a
means for economic improvement.
Copies of the report are available from the Columbia University Office
of Public Affairs; call Anne Canty at 212-854-5579.
Facts from Dominican New Yorkers: A Socioeconomic Profile, 1997
--- 45 percent of New York City's Dominican population lived in households that
were under the poverty line in 1990 (or 96), close to double the rate in the city
--- Between 1990 and 1997, the Dominican population in New York rose from
332,000 to 495,000.
--- 60 percent of all Dominicans in the United States (832,000) live in New York
--- As many as 104,000 Dominican children are enrolled in New York City public
--- Dominican students have a positive attitude toward school; as many as 93
percent believe that what they learn in school now will help them later.
--- In 1990, more than 25 percent of the Dominican labor force was employed in
manufacturing. The comparable figures are 10.6 percent for non-Hispanic
Whites and 8.2 percent for non-Hispanic Blacks.
--- The unemployment rate of Dominican men and women in New York City was
approximately 19 percent in 1997, close to twice the overall rate.
--- In 1996, the average annual earning of Dominican male workers was $15,495,
less than half the City's overall rate of $37,352. For Dominican women, the
average annual salary was $13,250, compared with $26,294 for the overall New
York City female workforce.
--- As much as 54.7 percent of all Dominican New Yorkers 25 years of age or older
had not completed high school in 1996.
--- 4 percent of Dominican New Yorkers 25 years of age or older had completed
college in 1996.
--- Dominicans are underrepresented in the New York City public sector. At 5
percent of the population, they held only 2 percent of the public sector jobs in