Don’t Turn a Blind Eye: Latino Unemployment Rate Remains High

Latino Unemployment BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of NBC News.

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a tough year for Americans from an economic and employment standpoint. People are suffering due to the coronavirus outbreak’s pervasive threat and the lasting damage that COVID-19 has done to this country. 

People are losing their lives; people are suffering long-term effects of COVID-19 symptoms; people are saying goodbye to loved ones via FaceTime, and family members are being buried without proper funerals. 

Our country is grappling with the devastating statistics of lives lost and infected individuals from coast to coast. But the stories of loss don’t stop there people are also struggling financially as well, unemployment numbers are reaching record highs, small businesses are suffering, and many people are worried about paying bills and making ends meet. And this fact is even more real, and the facts are even more alarming for the Hispanic community.

According to the Pew Research Center, the unemployment rate increased drastically for the Hispanic population, especially among Hispanic women. And the unemployment rate remains higher among Hispanic workers than U.S. workers overall. 

The report published this past August shows that unemployment rates in 2020 for Hispanics have exceeded levels from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, when the unemployment rate peaked at 13.9% in January 2010. 

The more recent figures show that Hispanics’ unemployment rate increased from 4.8% in February 2020 to a peak of 18.5% in April as a direct result of the country locking down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Hispanic women, those numbers, and the disparity between Hispanics and whites, is even more apparent and more alarming. For Hispanic women, the unemployment rate jumped from 5.5% to 20.5% between February and April 2020. 

It isn’t just about the numbers and rates of job loss, though those numbers are clearly hard to ignore. The statistics don’t lie, and they say a lot about the reality that many people are currently facing in America. It is also worth our attention that these unemployment numbers impact Hispanic families across the country from an emotional perspective. 

The American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, an online survey conducted by The Harris Poll, found that not only has the pandemic disproportionately impacted and harmed minority populations, but those populations are also bearing the brunt of the concerns for the future. They are feeling hopeless and fearful, more than other communities. 

“The pandemic has disproportionately affected lower-income groups, especially those in occupations that do not lend themselves to remote work,” said the group’s CEO, Richard Wahlquist, told CNBC. 

The survey found that 65% of Hispanics/Latinos and 58% of Blacks are worried about being able to pay their rent or mortgage. Compare that to only 44 % of whites who responded to the poll. And 53% of Blacks and 51% of Latinos/Hispanics are concerned about paying for childcare, compared to 34% of Whites. 

Furthermore, the Pew Research Center survey also found that about 70% of Latinos said in August that the worst of the problems due to the coronavirus outbreak is still to come. And earlier in the year, back in April and May, nearly 60% of Latinos said that they experienced job losses and/or pay cuts due to the pandemic. More than half of Latino participants expressed that they worry daily or nearly every day about financial issues like paying their bills, the amount of debt they carry, and healthcare costs. 

The damage that COVID-19 has done to this country is undeniable. But the suffering that minority communities such as Hispanics and Blacks are experiencing is even more severe. Members of those communities will continue to suffer. They will continue to fear for their futures until something changes both with how our administration is handling the current health crisis and how our country addresses the inherent racial disparities that have existed for years.