Washington, D.C. – A new report released today by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) provides an in-depth look at the unemployment situation in the Hispanic labor force during the Great Recession and finds that Hispanic workers were disproportionately employed in the sectors of the economy and areas of the country hardest hit by the recession.
The report entitled, “Understanding
the Economy: Unemployment in the Hispanic Community,” also concludes
that the increasing unemployment among Hispanic workers during the recession,
and the increased disparity in unemployment rates between Hispanic workers and
the overall workforce, appear to be largely caused by the collapse of the
housing market. Hispanic workers were disproportionately employed in the
construction sector, which was hit hard during the housing collapse, and in
states such as California, Florida and Nevada, which experienced the largest
declines in housing prices and the biggest increases in foreclosures.
The JEC report findings include:
- During the most recent recession, which began in December 2007, the unemployment rate of Hispanics more than doubled, rising from 6.3 percent to 12.6 percent. The number of Latinos out of work more than doubled, reaching a high of 2.9 million in October 2009.
- While the unemployment rate in the Hispanic community has edged down from its peak at 12.6 percent as of March 2010, the unemployment rate for Hispanics is still nearly 2.9 percentage points higher than the general population.
- Many states with large concentrations of Hispanic workers, such as California, Florida, and Nevada, have faced large employment losses and corresponding increases in their unemployment rates.
- Latinos were over-represented in the construction industry – almost 15 percent of Latinos were employed in the construction industry before the recession started compared to 8.1 percent of the overall population. Plummeting house prices and demand for new housing took a toll on the construction industry, which lost 24 percent of its workers between December 2007 and December 2009.
- Latinos were over-represented in two other sectors that were hit hard during this recession: the manufacturing industry and the leisure and hospitality industry. And Latinos were under-represented in education and health services, the only sector which expanded during the recession.
“Long term economic recovery will depend on initiatives that create jobs and expand opportunity for all Americans, including Hispanics,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez. “Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States and, as such, are a vital part of our workforce. It’s important for Congress to understand the unique economic challenges and opportunities facing this community, particularly as we begin to rebuild our housing and construction sectors."
The JEC report is part of a series of reports that analyzes BLS unemployment data during the latest recession to understand its impact on various communities and was prepared by the Majority Staff of the Joint Economic Committee.
The Joint Economic
Committee, established under the Employment Act of 1946, was created by
Congress to review economic conditions and to analyze the effectiveness of