Unemployment rises among Hispanics in the US: education and legal status among the reasons

Unemployment rises among Hispanics in the US: education and legal status among the reasons

Unemployment among Hispanics in the United States increased close to one percentage point during the month of February, going from 4.5% to 5.3%, placing the total at more than 1.6 million Hispanics without work, revealed the Office of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The increase would respond to a slow recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic in industries that concentrate the largest number of Hispanic workers, such as construction, hospitality, transportation and cleaning, according to experts.

“These industries were the hardest hit, and while they have recovered significantly, if you look at each one, the unemployment rate is higher than the overall average. Although industries such as leisure and hospitality have recovered, it has not kept up with pre-pandemic employment levels,” he told voice of america Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a think tank in Washington.

BLS data point out that the Hispanic population in the US represents 18% of the labor force in the country. White people maintain their large position in jobs, holding 77% of jobs.

“Since the US Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting employment data by ethnicity, the unemployment rate among Hispanics and Latinos has always been higher than the unemployment rate for whites. Despite the high employment rates per population, there are many more Hispanic and Latino people who would like to work but cannot find employment,” stated Rose Khattar, Jessica Bela and Lorena Roque in a study published by the Center for American Progressa US public policy institute.

Education and high skills competition would also be an obstacle for US Hispanics who become unemployed and seek to quickly change their job industry, Batalova explained. One example is the healthcare industry, whose job capacity quickly recovered after the pandemic but “is not as easy to get into because it requires a license or certification.”

Among people 25 and older, 78% of working Hispanics had at least a high school degree, while only 24% had college degrees.

At the peak of the pandemic, Hispanics occupied to a greater extent positions in which they were considered “essential workers”, that is, those whose presence is required to carry out their work. This applies to cases such as agriculture, transport and tourism.

“Essential workers were in high demand, but not at the same level as before, when things were normal before the pandemic, when people were cleaning offices, for example. Right now, many people are working remotely. Therefore, there is not as much need to clean offices as before the pandemic,” added Batalova.

The legal status of Hispanics in the US is a decisive factor in the occupation of these people, said the expert in immigration policies. “In order to work in a licensed occupation, by default you need to have legal status or a work permit,” she explained.

the MPI esteem that the population of undocumented people in the US is about 11 million, mostly from Central and South America. Of these, some 6.8 million would be informally employed in industries such as construction, food service, waste management, manufacturing, and sales.

Those people who have a temporary protection status or who enter the country under parole “are seen by employers as non-permanent, so they may have resistance to hiring these people with less clear legal status. It is a kind of intermediate state where it is not clear how long they will have their work permits and they end up working in informal, very unstable jobs that can end at any moment,” Batalova said.

In February, according to the BLS, “there were notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, retail, government, and health care. Employment decreased in information and in transport and storage”.

The overall unemployment rate in the US stood at 3.6%, which represented a slight increase and left the number of jobless people nationwide at 5.9 million. “These measures have shown little net movement since early 2022,” the BLS said in its report.

The number of job losses and people completing temporary jobs increased by 223,000 in February to 2.8 million.

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Written by Editor TLN

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