Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Janet Murguía “Job Growth: Here to Stay?”

A new analysis from the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) shows there’s good news and there’s bad news on the jobs front for Latinos.  The analysis found promising job growth in industries with a heavy Latino presence between January and February, but that growth is tinged with the reality that Latino workers still feel insecure at their jobs, while others have given up the search for lack of opportunities.

Data released by the U.S. Department of Labor show that between January and February 2011, 192,000 new jobs were created.  Even better news for Latinos, 152,000 of those jobs were in the service sector, industries that employ a large share of Latino workers.  Hispanics no doubt benefited from job growth in industries such as home health care services, administrative and waste services, and warehousing and storage.  This group makes up 21 percent of the workforce in the employment services industry alone, where 29,000 new jobs were added over the month.  Most jobs in this industry provide human resources services to businesses on a temporary basis.

Significant job growth and more opportunities for Latino workers is good news.  But that’s not the whole story.

An alarming number of Latinos have stopped looking for work altogether.  Between January and February, 187,000 Hispanic workers dropped out of the labor force.  This is the third month in a row that Latinos have exited the workforce, a disturbing trend for a group that historically holds the highest workforce participation rate.

This is also one likely reason why the unemployment rate among Latinos dropped from 11.9 percent in January to 11.6 percent in February: Hispanics who have given up looking for work are no longer counted as unemployed.

A new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll confirms these worrisome trends.  Many Hispanics said that they have stopped looking for work because of the lack of quality jobs, while others believe that they don’t have the skills necessary to compete in the current economy.  Having a job doesn’t inspire much confidence among Latinos either; almost one-third of Latinos polled said that they felt insecure at their current jobs.

Who can blame them?  Among working Hispanics, one-third said that they’ve lost health insurance and other benefits, while almost two-in- five said that they would face serious financial problems within a month if they missed a paycheck.

These indicators remind us that we still have a long way to go until our economy recovers.  Policies to create jobs in high-unemployment communities, federal budget investments in workforce development programs, and effective enforcement of federal labor laws are among the ways to get Latinos and other hard-hit workers back on their feet and into good jobs.

Janet Murguía is President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, which works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.