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optimism

In August 2014, the unemployment rate among Latinos fell from 7.8 to 7.5 percent, and despite persistent employment disparities — many of which may be related to racial discrimination — many young people in the community feel optimistic about the future, according to a National Council of La Raza (NCLR) monthly report.

As the Latin Post reports, 65 percent surveyed individuals aged 18 to 39 said they believe the economy will get better in the next five years. In addition, less than half of those polled said they’re worried about someone in their household losing his or her job.

The optimism comes even as data shows that nonwhites fare far worse than whites in the job market — even when they attain the same levels of education. As the Latin Post reports, 41.9 percent of Latino high school grads between the ages of 17 and 20 are unemployed. Among whites, that number stands at 36.8. Blacks in that population category, meanwhile, struggle the most, with a jobless rate of 56.6 percent.

Throw a college degree into the mix, and the numbers change but the hierarchy stays the same. The unemployment rate for Latinos with bachelors degrees aged 21 to 24 stands at 16.3 percent. For whites, the number is 15.8, while black college grads face a 25.5 percent jobless rate.

Why the lingering gaps? According to a Poverty Action Council study, jobseekers with white-sounding names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews, suggesting discrimination on the part of hiring managers — whether conscious or not — remains a real problem.

And yet young Latinos aren’t just optimistic about the future. NCLR poll results suggest they know what they want out of their careers and are motivated by more than money. The organization asked 250 Latinos between the age of 16 and 30 whether they’d rather earn $40,000 per year doing something they love or $100,000 toiling away at a boring job, and 60 percent opted for the former.