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UI Study Shows Growing Hispanic Population Contributes to K-12 Growth and Labor Supply

June 02, 2016

Hispanics make up 18 percent of Idaho’s K-12 school population – but accounted for 42 percent of enrollment growth in the last five years, according to a University of Idaho study. The Hispanic population is not increasing due to recent immigration, however. Immigrants who came to the U.S. since 2010 make up only two percent of Idaho’s Hispanic population.

The study also shows Hispanics make up 12 percent of Idaho’s workforce, compared to 17 percent nationally, but earn significantly less than their non-Hispanic counterparts statewide.

These findings come from a three-part series of reports released this week from the University of Idaho’s James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, in partnership with the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The reports paint a detailed portrait of the demographic, labor force, and education characteristics of Idaho’s Hispanic population.

“I am pleased that the University’s McClure Center provides objective data and information that helps Idaho policymakers understand the dynamics and drivers for our state’s Hispanic population, an important and growing segment,” said UI President Chuck Staben.

The study also showed:

  • Hispanic residents are, on average, younger than non-Hispanics in the state.

  • Hispanics are more likely to be in the labor force – defined as over the age of 16 and employed or looking for employment -- than other Idahoans.

  • Nine-in-10 live in southern Idaho, where six counties and 10 school districts would have shrunk in recent years if not for growth among Hispanics.

“Our findings offer reasons for optimism as well as concern,” said Priscilla Salant, director of the McClure Center. While Hispanics contribute significantly to Idaho’s population growth and economic vitality, their wage rates are lower than those among other Idahoans, their unemployment rates are higher, and their K-12 achievement scores are lower.

“Working together, the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and the University of Idaho have captured in easy-to-read reports the most comprehensive analysis of Idaho's Hispanic population trends,” said Juan Alvarez, ICHA Board Chair and COO of the Idaho National Lab. “This information will help policy makers, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector better assess the needs and impacts of Hispanics in Idaho communities and marketplaces."

The McClure Center, in the UI College of Letters Arts and Social Sciences, was founded in 2007 to sustain Sen. James A. McClure’s legacy of thoughtfully pursuing bipartisan collaboration and sound public policy. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Jodi Walker
Director, University Communications
o: 208-885-4295
c: 208-791-2109

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at