A recent study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, and ETS (Educational Testing Services) has found that bilingual workers in the United States can expect to earn $2,000 to $5,000 more per year than monolingual workers. Salary.com, a website reporting salaries for various kinds of workers, expressed the difference in terms of percentages, saying that bilingual workers can expect to earn 5% to 20% more depending on their job duties. Spanish/English bilingual workers in particular are increasingly valuable across the United States as the number of Spanish speakers increases.
In Puerto Rico, bilingualism is equally valuable. Terence Ryan, president of recruiting firm Ryan Executive Search, was quoted in an article in El Nuevo Dia as saying that 90% of companies headquartered off the island want English speakers when they hire in Puerto Rico. José Izquierdo, President of the Chamber of Commerce, was quoted as saying that more than 90% of the companies hiring in Puerto Rico have their main offices elsewhere, so the importance of bilingualism in Puerto Rico is clearly very high.
The U.S. Census reported that only 16% of Puerto Ricans describe themselves as speaking English “very well.” This is a self-assessment and may not reflect the actual level of English proficiency needed for all jobs, but it does imply that English language teaching should continue to be a high priority in Puerto Rico to prepare students for successful careers.
Given that the majority of people on the mainland are monolingual, Puerto Rico’s bilingual workforce is an advantage in attracting business.
El Nuevo Dia also quoted Eric Martinez, who said, “There is no way to work with an American employer, communicate with my supervisors, with colleagues, with agencies in the United States, if I do not speak English.”
Click here to read about the history of bilingualism in Puerto Rico.
Click here to read about the prevalence of bilingualism in the 50 states.
Click here to read about efforts to increase bilingualism in Puerto Rico.
Click here to read about the benefits of being bilingual.