Latino Unemployment Rate Hits Lowest Level on Record

In June of 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded the lowest Latino unemployment rate — 4.6 percent — since the bureau began keeping records in the early 1970’s. The statistic, down from the May level of 4.9 percent, counts Latinos aged 16 and older.

The rate, on a downward trajectory since February 2009, averaged 5 percent since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, according to CNSNews. This compares to an average Latino unemployment rate of 9.4 percent under President Barack Obama. In President Obama’s first full month in office in February 2009, BLS recorded a Latino unemployment rate of 11.3 percent. By the end of President Obama’s second term, the rate fell to 5.9 percent.

“Unemployment rates for blacks, Latinos and all Americans began a steady decline in late 2009 that has continued since Trump took office,” according to the CNS story. “The same with the plunge in first-time claims for unemployment benefits.”

Job losses due to the Great Recession, which began in late 2007 and ran through mid-2009, began recovering in late 2009. At the time, according to the Los Angeles Times, “there were more than 6 unemployed workers for every job opening. The ratio has been narrowing ever since.” The most current figures show fewer than 1 unemployed worker for each job opening.

The trending drop in unemployment, says Georgetown University public policy professor Harry Holzer, clearly starts under the Obama Administration. “It was Obama administration policies plus Federal Reserve policies that engineered a recovery from the depths of the Great Recession and that continues, although I do believe Trump’s fiscal policy has kept the recovery growing and strengthened it,” says Holzer, who served as chief economist in the Labor Department under the Clinton Administration.

Still, the unemployment rate acts as only one of many measures in gauging the economy. While many indicators point to a booming labor market, other markers paint a less optimistic picture, says Jed Kolko, chief economist at employment site Indeed.com.

For example, government data on wages and compensation show improvement since President Trump took office. However, inflation sits on the other side of that date. The combination means the rate of growth in real earning has actually fallen this year.

Real earnings, Kolko says, were higher in 2015 and 2016 “when inflation was minimal.”

Economists expect an acceleration in wage growth as the labor market continues to tighten because employers are forced to boost worker pay to remain competitive in recruiting and retaining workers.