In Tepid Recovery, U.S.-Born Latinos Drive Hispanic Job Growth
Amid slow economic growth and a housing market that hasn't fully recovered, U.S.-born Latinos have accounted for the majority of U.S. Hispanic job gains.
U.S.-born Latinos now make up the majority of the Hispanic workforce for the first time in nearly two decades, according to a new study released by Pew Research.
According to the report, although Latinos have gained 2.8 million jobs since the Great Recession ended in 2009, less than half a million of those jobs went to Hispanic immigrants. In 2013, of the 22 million employed Latinos in the U.S., 49.7 percent were immigrants, making U.S.-born Latinos the majority share of the Latino workforce by 0.6 percent.
Pew said immigrant Hispanic employment has declined from 56 percent of the country's Latino labor force in 2007 for several reasons, including the economic downturn, tougher immigration policies and a less-than-robust jobs recovery.
For example, from 2004 to 2007, immigrant Latinos gained 1.6 million jobs, outpacing U.S.-born Latinos about two to one, but nearly a third of those jobs -- 520,000 --were generated by the U.S. housing market bubble. The bubble burst and hurt employment across all demographics, but as the economy has slowly recovered, the employment level of immigrant Latinos has not changed since 2011.
At the same time, Latin America and Mexico immigration has stalled in the past few years. From 2005 to 2010, for example, 1.4 million immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, entered the U.S. -- less than half the number that flowed into the country during the last five years of the economic boom of the 90s. Pew attributes at least part of that to tighter border control and more deportations.
At the same time, births to Latinos living in the U.S. mean the Latino population is growing faster than the general population -- which, as we've reported, has led some to call the next generation of American-born Latinos the "next baby boom."
But while first- and second-generation U.S. Latino populations may be booming, and job growth for Hispanics is generally keeping pace with the growth of the Latino working-age population, unemployment rates are still higher for Latinos than they were in 2007. According to Pew, the unemployment rate for all Latinos in America ages 16 or older was 8.8 percent in the last quarter of 2013.
And earnings for all Hispanics have stagnated or fallen. For example, the median weekly earnings of U.S.-born Latinos working full time has fallen 6.4 percent over the past four years, while the same figure for all Hispanics has risen only 2.5 percent over the same time -- and that rise was mostly boosted by the drop in cheaper immigrant labor, not by increases in wages.
Most of the job growth for Latinos during the recovery has been in traditional industries, with more than half of Latino workers working in one of four sectors: construction, service industry, retail, and professional and business services. The last three sectors have accounted for nearly half of the growth in Hispanic employment since the housing market burst, and construction employment is not expected to recover back to housing-bubble levels.
The report shows a complex, difficult, but also optimistic picture of Latino employment during the economic recovery. While the unemployment rate from the Great Recession has dropped among Latinos, the labor market in general is still about 1.4 million jobs short compared with the beginning of the downturn, and unemployment across the board remains higher than the pre-recession rate of 4.6 percent.
Latinos living in the U.S. have made strides in the recovery, but the majority of the jobs regained remain relatively low-paying, with U.S.-born Latinos averaging $640 a week in median earnings. And, as Google's and Yahoo's diversity reports have shown, the number of Latinos working in the fastest-growth sector -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs -- remains in single-digit percentages.
The Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project gathers data from the Current Population Survey, a monthly government survey of about 55,000 households conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau. Check out its report for much more detail on its methodology and research results.
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