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US Jobs Report: Latinos 'Actively' Seeking Employment, Unemployment Grows to 7.8 Percent

First Posted: Jul 05, 2014 08:55 AM EDT

The U.S. Department of Labor released June's jobs figures, and it was a "strong" month except for Latinos.

The Department of Labor reported 288,000 jobs were added during June, and as a result, the country's unemployment rate decreased from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent. The latest unemployment rate figure is the lowest for the U.S. since September 2008.

While the overall unemployment rate dropped, a small increase occurred for U.S. Latinos. The Latino unemployment rate increased from 7.7 percent in May to 7.8 percent for June. According to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the increase in the Latino unemployment figure might be due to "more Latinos coming off the sidelines of the labor market and actively searching for work."

With June's job data, 23.4 million Latinos over the age of 16 are employed or "temporarily absent" from their jobs. Unemployed Latinos increased from May's 1.9 million to 2 million, which includes people who are available to work, have made an effort to find employment or are expected to return to work from a layoff.

In total, 25.4 million is the sum of the civilian labor force, or the overall figure of employed and unemployed Latinos in the U.S.

"Unemployment is an imperfect measure of economic well-being because it fails to count workers who are not employed at their full potential or who are detached from the labor market but still able to work," NCLR noted.

The Council stated the monthly job reports are useful to measure "underemployment," which includes "individuals who are out of work, working part time but prefer full-time work, or gave up searching for a job but are still available to work."

"Underemployment paints a more vivid picture of the employment challenges that millennials, particularly millennials of color, currently face," NCLR noted.

Latino males, notably millennials, are most likely to work in "specific sectors" of the U.S. workforce that often tend to be lower-wage jobs. Immigration status is also an important factors for Latino males. Approximately 18 percent of Latinos ages 16-19 are foreign-born, 31 percent are between the ages of 20 and 25, and 46 percent are between 26 and 30 years old. The lack of work authorization can "severely limit" employment opportunities immigrants, and it may relegate them to low-wage jobs in industries such as construction and retail. As Latin Post reported, the construction sector is important to the Latino community with 2.2 million Latinos involved as of August 2013.

NCLR said "The clear benefits of additional work experience for Latino male millennials' employment call for enhanced efforts to expand job opportunities for young men. However, the fact that additional work experience alone is not sufficient to enable Latino men to break into full-time jobs requires a set of effective responses to address structural barriers. Young men cannot solve these challenges on their own; policymakers and businesses are among the many actors that have important roles to play."


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