To commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins today and runs through October 15, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Congressman Dr. 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 five 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.
Among the report’s findings:
- The median net worth of white families is five times higher than that of Hispanic families, a pervasive gap that has remained virtually unchanged since the mid 1990s.
- A result of systemic discrimination in the labor market, unemployment among Hispanic workers remains 41% higher than that of white workers, hindering the productive capacity of the economy.
- Nearly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses contribute over $800 billion to the U.S. economy annually and employ more than 3 million workers, but Hispanic business face ongoing barriers to financing that restrict business formation and development.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor the essential and far-reaching contributions of Hispanic Americans to the collective prosperity of the United States. As this report makes clear, Hispanic workers, families and businesses have served—and continue to serve—as pillars of strength to communities nationwide and to the U.S. economy as a whole,” said JEC Chairman Beyer. “But for all the progress that has been made to address systemic barriers facing Hispanic communities, there is still work to do to promote better wages and job quality, alleviate poverty and ensure equal access to educational opportunities and homeownership. If we are to build a stronger and more resilient economy today and for future generations, our policies must recognize the critical role Hispanic Americans continue to play in making the United States a leader in the global economy.”
“The report by the Joint Economic Committee under Chair Don Beyer’s leadership clearly shows America’s Hispanic workforce is driving economic growth today and will continue to do so for years to come. While there is much to celebrate, we must continue to work to address the injustices that Hispanics face in the labor market, help small businesses overcome barriers to financing, and ensure Hispanics are financially prepared for retirement,” said CHC Chair Dr. Raul Ruiz.