Monday, June 07, 2010

Latino Unemployment: May 2010

By the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) (June 5, 2010)

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that the unemployment rate for May 2010 was at 9.7 percent, basically unchanged (they stated that it "edged down," whatever that means) from the 9.9 percent the month before. There were close to 15 million unemployed (not including "discouraged workers"). The other big story was that almost all of the employment gains were the result of more than 400,000 temporary jobs provided by the Census Bureau for the enumeration of the 2010 Census. The overall picture was, in other words, not generally encouraging.

They also reported that more than 2.8 million Latinos were unemployed in May, representing a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. While lower than the unemployment rate for Blacks (15.5 percent), Latino unemployment was much higher than that of Whites (8.8 percent) and Asians (7.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted). The Latini unemployment rate went from 12.6 to 12.4 percent between January and May of this year, relecting no real change.

The unemployment figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics do not include Puerto Rico, which calculates its own unemployment rate that it releases for the previous month. In April 2010, Puerto Rico had an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent, representing 196,000 unemployed.

The teenage unemployment rate (ages 16-19) is high for all groups. For Latinos it is 28.6 percent, compared to 38.0 percent for Black teens, and 24.4 percent for White teens. Comparable data for Asians was not available.

These statistics reveal that Latinos are clearly being disproportionately impacted by the current recession. The result is that despite representing 14.8 percent of the US civilian labor force, Latinos make up a disproportionate 18.9 percent of the total unemployed in the US (excluding Puerto Rico).

While the Latino unemployment rate is high, it varies according to Latino subgroup. Based on the latest data available for the subgroups (and excluding Puerto Rico), the December 2009 Current Population Survey, we found that while the total Latino unemployment rate was 11.7 percent, it varied by national-origin. It was highest for stateside Puerto Ricans (13.9 percent), followed by Central and South Americans (12.4 percent), Mexicans (11.6 percent), and Cubans (8.0 percent). For other Latinos, it was 10.8 percent.

As mentioned above, in Puerto Rico, the unemployment rate in April was 14.7 percent. Within Puerto Rico, this rate varied from a low of 9.1 percent in Guaynabo and Culebra, to a high of 21.9 percent in Salinas. In the major metropolitan areas of Puerto Rico, the Guayama MSP had the highest unemployment rate, at 23.1 percent.

The unemployment statistics are based on the Current Population Survey (CPS), a statistical survey conducted by the United States Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS uses the data to provide a monthly report on the Employment Situation. This report provides estimates of the number of unemployed people in the United States. A readable Employment Situation Summary is provided monthly. Available annual estimates include employment and unemployment in large metropolitan areas.

The CPS began in 1940, and responsibility for conducting the CPS was given to the Census Bureau in 1942. CPS is a monthly survey of about 60,000 households. The sample represents the civilian noninstitutional population. The survey asks about the employment status of each member of the household 15 years of age or older in the calendar week containing 12th day of the month. Based on responses to a series of questions on work and job search activities, each person 16 years and over in a sample household is classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force.

For further information, contact:
Angelo Falcón
800-590-2516 or

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