How Does Ability to Speak English Affect Earnings?

Jennifer Cheeseman Day, U.S. Census Bureau
Hyon B. Shin, U.S. Census Bureau

In America, having difficulty speaking English can adversely affect the ability to earn money. Employers may avoid hiring otherwise qualified individuals who have difficulty communicating effectively. People who have difficulty with English may feel uncomfortable applying for some jobs that require proficient English. Based on data from the Census 2000, we find that workers who spoke only English had higher median earnings compared with those who spoke a language other than English. Moreover, among those who spoke a language other than English, those with the greatest English-speaking ability have the highest median earnings. We will examine median earnings of workers by English-speaking ability. We will consider language spoken to determine whether some language groups have more of an advantage than others in their ability to earn money. We will also examine this relationship by workers' age, sex, race/Hispanic origin, nativity, year of entry, employment status, educational attainment, and occupation.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Education, Gender, Religion, Language and Culture