To commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), released a new report highlighting the essential contributions Hispanic Americans make to U.S. economic growth and how Hispanic workers and families are faring in today’s economy.
Hispanic Americans were overrepresented among essential workers that kept the U.S. economy running through the worst of the pandemic and were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and its economic effects. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief, Hispanic unemployment dropped to 4.1% in the second quarter of 2022—down from its peak of 16.7% at the height of the pandemic—which is helping to power the ongoing U.S. recovery.
Historically, Hispanic Americans have been more engaged in the labor market than their white counterparts, a trend that continues today. In 2022, more than 66% of Hispanic Americans were working or actively looking for work—a participation rate that is more than 5 percentage points higher than that of their white peers.?
However, despite outsized contributions to overall economic growth and a strong rebound after the pandemic recession, Hispanic Americans continue to face barriers to full economic participation that threaten the well-being of communities across the country and cause economy-wide harms.
FAST FACTS ABOUT THE ECONOMIC STATUS OF HISPANIC AMERICANS
While Hispanic Americans were hit hard by the pandemic, the ongoing economic recovery and the active role of public policy during times of hardship has helped these workers and their families
While Hispanic workers were disproportionately hurt by the economic impact of the pandemic given their disproportionate representation in low-wage occupations, the American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief spurred the economic recovery that has helped reduce the Hispanic unemployment by nearly half since President Biden came into office.
Significant progress has been made to reduce poverty among Hispanic children in the last 30 years, thanks in large part to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and rental assistance. But challenges remain, as the Hispanic child poverty rate remains nearly three times higher than that of white children.
THE NATIONAL AND STATE-LEVEL DATA ON THE ECONOMIC SITUATION OF HISPANIC AMERICANS, 2022
The economic situation of Hispanic Americans has improved over the past decades, but disparities persist in earnings, wealth, economic opportunity and access to the financial system. These inequities limit the economic participation of Hispanic Americans and the competitiveness and fairness of the U.S. economy.
While Hispanic workers and families were hit hard by job losses during the pandemic and the recession that followed, the strong economic recovery under Biden has helped cut Hispanic unemployment by nearly half. The strong engagement of Hispanic Americans with the labor market has also bolstered the ongoing economic recovery.
Despite these gains, Hispanic workers continue to face persistently higher unemployment than their white counterparts due to occupational segregation and discrimination in the labor market. Hispanic workers are also less likely than white workers to be represented by a union at their workplace, limiting their ability to bargain for better pay and working conditions. These challenges translate into higher rates of poverty and food insecurity for Hispanic families. Persistent gaps in educational levels and wealth also limit the economic security of Hispanic workers and families.
Equitable investments made by the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress via emergency relief and the American Rescue Plan continue to help Hispanic workers and families be part of the economic recovery and help address pervasive structural barriers to inclusion. More recent measures, like the Inflation Reduction Act will help reduce costs for families, including Hispanic families and those in other communities of color who are disproportionately hurt by elevated prices. While Democrats continue this work, recognizing both the contributions and challenges of the Hispanic community this Hispanic Heritage Month marks an important step in ensuring that every American can realize the promise of the America Dream.
LATINA WORKERS ARE PLAYING A GROWING ROLE IN THE U.S. ECONOMY, BUT CONTINUE TO FACE BARRIERS TO ECONOMIC SECURITY
There are more than 62 million Hispanic Americans living in the United States, and Hispanic workers, families and businesses serve a vital role in helping power the U.S. economy. In particular, Hispanic women represent a critical and growing segment of the U.S. labor market and economy. The increasing labor market participation of Latinas is helping support the ongoing economic recovery and the resilience of the American workforce.
However, Hispanic women continue to be overrepresented in low-wage occupations and face barriers to economic opportunity. Specifically, the overrepresentation of Latinas in low-paying sectors means that they are disproportionally hurt by the gender pay gap, economic insecurity and poor working conditions.