Latino jobless rate soars


Latino unemployment in California, which has been rising rapidly, reached 15.7% in the quarter ending June 30, exceeding African American joblessness for the first time in the current economic downturn, according to a new analysis.

The state’s Latino unemployment is projected to hit nearly 18% a year from now, said the report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

Nationally, black unemployment continues to surpass Latino joblessness, and that pattern is not expected to change soon, said Algernon Austin, the study’s author. Still, across the country, unemployment among Latinos has increased faster than for other groups.


Among 12 states with enough data to compare unemployment by ethnicity, California is the only one where Latino joblessness leads all other groups.

“One thing that is driving the Hispanic unemployment rate is the collapse of the housing market, which means the collapse of construction,” Austin said. “That has been a big factor.”

But in California, it is Latino women who appear to be tipping the unemployment scales. Unemployment among Latinas, which reached 15% in the last quarter, began overtaking that of black women earlier this year, according to Austin’s data. Black women had a jobless rate of 11.3% in the quarter ending in June.

Black men still have higher unemployment in California than Latino men, reaching 19.2% and 16.2%, respectively, last quarter. Joblessness among blacks has fluctuated during the recession, reaching a high of 21.2% for men in the first quarter, according to Austin’s data.

For Latino men and women in the state, unemployment has risen steadily and at a sharper rate.

“Construction is certainly part of the story” of Latino job losses, he said, “but I don’t think it’s the full story.”


As the recession took hold in late 2007, black unemployment in California was 9.8%, compared with 7% for Latinos and 4.6% for whites, the report says.

For the second quarter of this year, black unemployment is estimated at 15.3% -- slightly less than Latinos -- and white unemployment was 8.6%.

The full unemployment report is available at the institute’s website,