The official Bureau of Labor Statistics summary, released this morning, paints a picture that many people are feeling good about: Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 146,000 in November, and the unemployment rate edged down to 7.7 percent. It means that, overall, the U.S. economy is headed in the right direction; that we’re slowly putting the recession behind us; that more people are working, spending and churning the economy. Great.
A couple of paragraphs down from that initial statement is a breakdown of that overall number.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.2 percent), adult women (7.0 percent), teenagers (23.5 percent), whites (6.8 percent), and Hispanics (10.0 percent) showed little or no change in November.
It’s the very last segment in that sentence that i’m interested in: Latinos, no change.
The difference is in the numbers nuance. Overall, 146,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy; retail employment increased by 53,000; healthcare added 20,000 jobs; information employment went up by 12,000; hospitality increased by 23,000…
But construction, where many Latinos make their living, declined by 20,000 jobs; and manufacturing also decreased by 7,000. That mad ethe diffeence. So Latinos are finding work i this economy, but they’re losing their jobs at the same rate that they’re finding them.
And it’s worse among young Latinos between 18 and 29 years old. Their rate of unemployment is at 12.9% (13% for practical purposes).
This is important, not only for Latinos but for the economy as a whole. When the recession took it’s initial dive we were told that the recovery, when it came, would be long and jobless because the cause of the downturn was different than all other downturns. The housing market suffered the most and in turn construction was hit the hardest. So construction workers were like the canaries in the coal mine – the employment in this sector was the best indicator of the health of the economic recovery.
We may be doing well, but the rate of employment of construction workers, Latino construction workers specifically, tell us there’s still a long road ahead.
[Photo by wools]