While the U.S. Department of Labor’s June job statistics were mostly positive — the economy added 288,000 jobs, and unemployment decreased from 6.3 to 6.1 percent — the news wasn’t good for all segments of the population. As Latin Post reports, unemployment rose slightly for Latinos, climbing from 7.7 percent in May to 7.8 percent.
This might suggest a significant number of Latino individuals lost jobs in June, but as the National Council of La Raza points out, the number may represent “more Latinos coming off the sidelines of the labor market and actively searching for work.” And that’s not the only sense in which the Department of Labor’s data could be misleading.
“Unemployment is an imperfect measure of economic well-being because it fails to count workers who are not employed at their full potential or who are detached from the labor market but still able to work,” the NCLR said.
For a better picture of where things stand, the NCLR says, it’s useful to look at “underemployment,” which measures how many people are working part-time jobs, even though they’d rather be full-time, as well as those who’ve stopped looking for work altogether.
Even Latinos who’ve found jobs face many challenges, Latin Post reports, as many — particularly young men — tend to work in low-paying fields. As of August 2013, some 2.2 million Latinos were involved in the construction industry, and since many young workers were born in other countries and lack work authorization, their options are severely limited. As the NLCS says, lawmakers and business leaders need to step up and help Latino workers make inroads into better-paying fields.
“The clear benefits of additional work experience for Latino male millennials’ employment call for enhanced efforts to expand job opportunities for young men,” the NCLR said. “However, the fact that additional work experience alone is not sufficient to enable Latino men to break into full-time jobs requires a set of effective responses to address structural barriers.”