For the first time since February 2008, Latino unemployment has hovered below 7 percent for three straight months.
That’s one of several pieces of good news that came with the latest jobs report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In November 2014, the agency announced, the U.S. economy added 321,000 new jobs, and the percentage of unemployed Latinos fell from 6.8 to 6.6. The number stands at 4.9 percent for whites, and the overall jobless rate fell to 5.8, the lowest it’s been since July 2008. Given that job gains have averaged 241,000 over the last 11 months, 2014 is on pace to be the strongest year since 1999 in terms of hiring.
Since November 2013, NBC News reports, the unemployment rate for Latinos has dropped 32 percent, and while that’s a positive sign, Catherine Singley Harvey, manager of the economic policy project for the National Council of La Raza, stopped short of celebrating.
“Over the year, we have seen a shrinking disparity,” Singley Harvey said. “Now that we are in post-recession, we would expect the disparity to shrink. But, we still have a long way to go when it comes to recovery.”
As NBC News points out, November is a big month for seasonal hiring, and many of the new jobs added were in low-wage industries like retail and waste management — both of which tend to have large proportions of Latino workers.
While NCLR has yet to conduct a study of how Latinos voted in the recent midterm elections, Singley Harvey says data suggests many individuals supported the minimum-wage increases that were on the ballots in several states. Clearly, the sheer number of jobs isn’t the only thing on people’s minds.
“Latinos are felling anxious about the economy,” Singley Harvey said. “It was a priority in elections and wages are a top priority. People don’t feel they are earning enough to cover their basic expenses.”