Edwin Meléndez is a Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College. He was appointed as the Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies in 2008. An economist by training, he has conducted considerable research in the areas of Puerto Rican and Latino studies, economic development, labor markets, and poverty. In addition to numerous scientific papers and other publications, he is the author or editor of ten books. Professor Melendez has an extensive record of community and public service, including numerous appointments to government and community boards, and has worked as a consultant to numerous government, community, and philanthropic foundations. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education, 2011, from the New York League of Puerto Rican Women, the 2010 Educational Leadership Honoree award from the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, New York, and El Diario El Awards 2009, New York.
Director, Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning
695 Park Avenue, Room E-1409
New York, NY 10065
<Selected Publications> List of Edwin Melendez’s selected publications by type, includes dates and publishers. Please contact Professor Melendez at Edwin.Melendez@hunter.cuny.edu for copies of publications.
<Summary of Selected Publications> Annotated bibliography of a selection of Edwin Melendez’s publications and professional reports.
<Summary of Selected Teaching Experience> Throughout his academic career Dr. Meléndez has promoted a broad range of educational activities germane to the mission of public higher education, including the mentoring and advising of doctoral, master, and undergraduate students; the design of on-line courses; the use of client-based teaching for professional training; and the implementation of professional development programming. Find out more about doctoral, masters and undergraduate courses taught and Supervised Ph.D. Dissertations. Please contact Professor Melendez at Edwin.Melendez@hunter.cuny.edu for copies of syllabi.
<The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, CUNY> Presented Wednesday, October 24th to CUNY’s University Office of Recruitment and Diversity and Chief Diversity Officers from all campuses (30 officers). The presentation was about the Center for Puerto Rican Studies covered the organization’s mission, some general demographic information and major issues facing the stateside Puerto Rican community, and how Centro’s programs respond to the communities we serve.
<100 Puerto Ricans> The 100 Puerto Ricans campaign is a strategy designed to encourage individuals and organizations that have made or are making a difference in our community to record and document their experiences for future generations. We seek to: Strengthen Centro’s archival collections by making them more comprehensive and balanced; Engage a broad range of organizations and partners in the implementation of this campaign; and, Design and implement a fundraising campaign to support the implementation of the initiative. In this presentation Centro’s director Edwin Melendez and the Library and Archives director Alberto Hernández explain the campaign in more details.
<Why I Became Director> September 2008. In this essay I explain what motivated me to become director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies and how my past work experiences have prepared me to this challenge. I fully embrace the academic mission and institutional objectives of Centro and I have led the development of a vision that responds to the current organizational challenges. I hope to make a significant contribution to the intellectual and administrative leadership of Centro, and I am eager to help build the future success on what has already become a premier research center in this country and abroad. I have been part of the Centro extended family for a long time, and consider it both a grand honor and great responsibility to take on the role of director.
<In Pursuit of Puerto Rican Studies> Presentation on the challenges and opportunities facing the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. September 23, 2008
Pathways to Economic Opportunity
This research initiative sponsored by the Ford Foundation contributes to the understanding of crucial aspects of participation in low-wage labor markets in the United States and pathways to economic opportunity for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos. Puerto Ricans and other Latinos are concentrated within this segment. Puerto Ricans in particular experience higher rates of unemployment and poverty than other Latino subgroups. The key findings of the study are: There are pathways programs with a proven record of servicing the needs of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos, especially in the 18 to 24 age cohort, that can be strengthened, replicated, and from which best practices can be learned; and, Effective intermediaries serving Puerto Ricans and other Latinos should implement culturally relevant practices and comprehensively engage with local workforce-development partners, the publicly financed employment services system and employers. In seven reports, a conclusion, and related commentaries, the researchers investigate such issues as the profile of migrants moving into the low-wage sector stateside; migration flows; public workforce development and the role of community-based organizations in the development of employment opportunities; an analysis of the pathways of Puerto Ricans transitioning into post-secondary education; and investigations into potential employment of Puerto Ricans in the energy-efficiency sector and into the fields of teaching and social work.
This research is high-lighted in the Fall 2011 edition of the CENTRO Journal. <Click here for a brochure with instructions on how to receive a free copy of the Centro Journal>
<Pathways to Economic Opportunity>This power point presentation is a summary of the findings of a study sponsored at the Ford Foundation made at the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Tuesday, April 10, 2012. (with M. Anne Visser)
<Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Low-Wage Labor Market: Introduction to the Issues, Trends, and Policies> M. Anne Visser and Edwin Meléndez, CENTRO Journal 7 ( 11) 2011.Puerto Ricans are concentrated in low-wage jobs and experience higher rates of unemployment and poverty than other Hispanic subgroups. Through a cross-sectional data analysis from the American Community Survey, 2006–2008, we examine the experience of Puerto Rican workers. Though educational attainment and language disparities play a role, structural factors such as concentration in low-wage service industries also explain the disadvantaged standing of Puerto Ricans in the labor market. This analysis highlights the importance of ethnic-specific studies and the need for research on factors that may influence Puerto Rican workers’ mobility in and out of low-wage jobs.
<Low-Wage Labor, Markets and Skills Selectivity among Puerto Rican Migrants> Edwin Meléndez and M. Anne Visser, CENTRO Journal 7 (11) 2011.This study provides an analysis of the occupational and educational selectivity of Puerto Rican migration to and from the United States using consolidated data from the American Community Survey for 2006 to 2008. Using existing theoretical explanations of migration, the study assesses the extent to which current explanations of migration are applicable to the most recent migratory flows. To ascertain the validity of the proposition that Puerto Rican migration flows are primarily composed of the most disadvantaged workers, we divided the sample into two labor market segments—those employed in low-wage occupations and those not employed in low-wage occupations. The main conclusions of this study are that net migration outflows from the island are likely to persist to the extent that growing disparities in labor market conditions between Puerto Rico and the United States persist, and that the patterns of selectivity predicted by various theories of migration are not unmistakably identifiable in current flows. Such evidence calls for a new look at the case of Puerto Rican migration.
<Conclusions: Improving the Pathways to Economic Opportunity> Edwin Meléndez and M. Anne Visser, CENTRO Journal 7 (11) 2011.The studies in the special issue of the Centro Journal contribute to the understanding of crucial aspects of participation in low-wage labor markets. The lessons from these studies are important for developing community strategies and designing public policy for Puerto Ricans workers, especially young people who could benefit the most from career pathways. The case studies are examples of best practice in the field of workforce development. By design, the case studies selected for analysis by the various authors share some elements: they target industries with significant employment potential; they involve higher education and community partnerships; and they focus on serving the Puerto Rican and Latino communities
<The Educational Pipeline for Puerto Ricans, Latinos and Whites> Presented at the Somos Conference San Juan, PR, November 9-13, 2011. Addresses and present data on Puerto Rican disparities in school enrollment, 3 years and over, when compared to Whites and other Latinos; work force status and school enrollment by educational attainment (18 to 24 years old) and disparities in college and graduate attainment (25 years and over) for various ethnic groups; and, best practice programs that structure pathways to economic opportunity to Puerto Ricans and other disadvantaged youth.
<Work Force Status and School Enrollment by Educational Attainment, 2010, 18 to 24 Years Old> One page graphic summarizing data for the relation between school enrollment and work, for Puerto Ricans, Latinos and Whites.
<Latinos & Equal Opportunity in New York> Presented at the Unidad Latina Legislative Conference, Saturday, October 22, 2011. This study addresses the question of “What Do We Know about Latino Employment in New York State?” The core finding is that White men and women are over-represented in each occupational category of employment in NYS, while minority workers are under-represented in each and every category of employment in NYS. The Index of Dissimilarity indicates that one in seven (14.2%) Puerto Ricans employed in NYS would have to change occupations to reach parity with the distribution of white employment, and one in five (18.6%) of other Latinos. The study calls for NYS civil service reform on: recruitment, testing preparation and flexibility, enforcement of EEO regulations in key agencies.
<Understanding Puerto Rico’s Economy and its Political Status> Presentation to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), New York Regional Office, March 31, 2011. The status of Puerto Rico is important to the economic system. In this presentation I examine the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico and its relation to the island's political relation to the United States. At least three major structural factors triggered the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico: The decline in manufacturing jobs induced by the elimination of Section 936; The crisis in public finances; and, The impact of the housing crisis on construction and the banking industry. The elimination of section 936 ended federal tax exemption as the cornerstone of economic development. The crisis in public finances was triggered by the government’s inability to borrow in financial markets to sustain the ongoing level of operations and expenditure. This was the result, in part, of a mounting deficit for poorly conceived and executed projects that added significantly to the deficit, such as: the Urban Train (added $100 million); the 1990s Health Care Reform (added $500 million); and, uncollected back taxes exceeded $3.5 billion in 2009. Estimates of the 2010-11 operational budget deficit ranged from$2 to $3.2 billion. In response, two legislative initiatives were enacted: a 7% sales tax in 2006 and Law 7 of 2010, which authorized the government to bypass both collective bargaining and existing labor laws when firing public employees. Law 7 enable the elimination of thousands of government jobs. The crisis reignited the Political Status debate, including a study from the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status. Prospects for the immediate future of the economy are grim. There is no clear industry in the private sector to replace manufacturing (the knowledge sector?). The prospects for a more active public sector through fiscal or tax policies are very low. And, the island faces increased competition from Brazil, Mexico and other Latin American countries in global markets.
<Puerto Rico’s Political Status, Fact Sheet> Summary of political options, most salient plebiscites, key legislation for federal tax exemption aimed to promote economic development, and highlights from the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status.
<Historical Overview of Puerto Rico’s Economy and its Political Status> Chronology of events and legislation affecting Puerto Rico’s Economy and its political status.
<The Puerto Rican Working Poor, Revisited> Presentation at Public Policy and Social Conditions Conference, sponsored by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, December 10, 2010. This presentation examines Puerto Rican poverty and the factors associated with poverty. It focuses on the question of “What do we know about the working poor?” It concludes with a discussion on policies to support the working poor.
<Poverty Rates for Families and People, United States> This table uses data from the American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates to compare poverty rates in 2007 and 2009 for the total population, Latinos and Puerto Ricans.
<Poverty Rates for Families and People, by States and Places> These tables use data from the American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2009, for the total population, Latinos and Puerto Ricans by state and places.
<Poverty Rates for Families and People, New York> These tables use data from the American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, 2009, for Puerto Ricans in New York state and city, including by counties.
<The Educational Pipeline & Workforce Development for Puerto Ricans, Latinos, and Whites> Testimony to the New York Education Reform Commission, October 16, 2012, New York, NY. This testimony examines the growing numbers of out of school and work youth –especially those of Puerto Rican and Latino descent. Such growth is cause for concern as studies continue to show that out of work and school youth are more likely to experience difficult transitions to and negative outcomes in adulthood including: persistent poverty, long term unemployment, poor mental and physical health, substance abuse and dependency, homelessness and violence. Findings from Centro’s Pathways to Economic Opportunities study call for the need to strengthen and develop programs that focus explicitly on serving the Puerto Rican and Latino communities. The challenge now is for leaders in K-12 education, higher education, government, and community organizations to engage with employers and industry leaders in addressing the unique needs of Puerto Rican and other Latino youth.
<Puerto Rican Youth Out of School and Work, 2005‐2009> Testimony to the NYC Youth Services Committee, New York City Council, June 23, 2011 (Written with M. Anne Visser). In New York City, there are over three hundred thousand young individuals out of school and work. We presented a statistical profile of information on youth not at school or work in New York City, with particular attention given to Puerto Ricans.
<The Puerto Rican Diaspora and the Political Status of Puerto Rico> Presentation to the University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad Association (UPRAA) forum on “Puerto Rico at its Political Crossroads: A Forum to discuss the Political Future of the Island,” September 13, 2011, Cannon Caucus Room, US Congress. This essay explains the island's evolving history and the unique situation of the stateside Puerto Rican community that has the potential to impact any debate on the future political status of Puerto Rico.
<Economic Opportunity for Latino/as in a Time of Crisis> This was the IUPLR DISTINGUISHED LECTURE at the Fourth Biennial Conference Siglo Xxi: Forging the Future of Latinos in a Time Of Crisis sponsored by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research, FEBRUARY 23-25, 2012, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. This lecture examines Economic Opportunity for Latino/as in a Time of Crisis. To examine this critical topic three components are covered: First, data about Latino/as and the Business Cycle is discussed; then some common explanations for economic disparities among Latino/as are examined; and lastly, the role of labor market intermediaries in structuring career pathways and advancing economic opportunity is discussed.
<To Frank> Essay in honor of Frank Bonilla, founding director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies for El Boletin-- Newsletter of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos, Spring 2011.
<A Revisionist View of the Young Lords> Essay on behalf of the naming of Young Lords Way in East Harlem. Undoubtedly, the historical significance of the Young Lords occupies a prominent place among civil rights organizations and the Puerto Rican community in the United States. The Young Lords became a movement centered on the empowerment of Puerto Rican communities in the United States and mark a vital historical turning point. Despite the radical rhetoric of the times and the obvious challenge to authorities, not to mention their embracing of armed self-defense and symbolic actions such as the occupation of the First Methodist Church in East Harlem, their legacy is about the definition of a Puerto Rican identity in the Diaspora, an affirmation of their rights as citizens to equal treatment and protections under the law, access to health care and education, and instilling a sense of pride in their heritage and their people. Such legacy merits recognition and celebration, and transcending the confines of the well-deserved acknowledgment of the Puerto Rican community as a whole.
<Edwin Meléndez’s Remarks For La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña Gala> October 27, 2012.
<Edwin Melendez’s Remarks for SSW Inauguration Ceremony> September 27, 2011.
<Edwin Meléndez’s Remarks For the inauguration of the Labor exhibit> October 27, 2011.
<Edwin Meléndez’s Remarks for Centro’s Library and Archives Inauguration Ceremony> October 21, 2011.
<Edwin Meléndez’s Remarks to the Latino Honor Society, BMCC Gala--Education as Empowerment> New York May 1st, 2011.