Latinos lead in insufficient work hours

This month, the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) Monthly Latino Unemployment Report focuses on the important issue of underemployment. “Underemployment,” as The State of Working America states, is “a more comprehensive measure of slack in the labor market than unemployment.”

The book goes on:

Underemployment includes workers who meet the official definition of unemployment as well as: 1) those who are working part time but want and are available to work full time (“involuntary” part timers), and 2) those who want and are available to work and have looked for work in the last year but have given up actively seeking work (“marginally attached” workers). While this is the most comprehensive measure of labor underutilization available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it does not include workers who are underemployed in a “skills or experience” sense (as in, say, a mechanical engineer working as a barista).

African Americans generally have the highest rates of underemployment among the major racial and ethnic groups. However, for much of 2009, Latinos had a slightly higher rate. This year, the Latino underemployment rate has averaged about 20 percent, while the black rate has averaged about 23 percent, and the white rate about 12 percent.

NCLR’s report also pulls apart the underemployment rate to examine the rate of involuntary part-time work. The share of workers who want full-time work but only have part-time work out of all workers is another important measure of hardship. Many of these individuals are struggling to make ends meet.

If one examines this involuntary-part-time rate from Nov. 2011 to Oct. 2012, Latinos have the highest rate. The share of Latino workers who only have part-time work but desire full-time work is 10.3 percent. For blacks, it is 7.7 percent, and for whites it is 5 percent. We need much stronger job creation to put these part-time workers in full-time jobs.

  • Paul Carter

    Why oh why when talking of unemployed does La Raza and the author fail to mention the 7+ million illegal aliens currently holding non-farm, payroll jobs in our economy. What would the unemployment rate be for Black and Latino workers if these illegal alien workers were forced from their jobs through programs such as E-Verify? The plain fact of the matter is that the jobs currently held by illegal aliens are the exact same jobs previously held by low skilled Black and Latino workers. The high unemployment rates of Black and Latino workers also begs the question of why the US government continues to import over a million foreign workers each and every year? There has been and continues to be a vast over supply of workers in every work category except at the executive level. Instead of continuing to import legal and illegal workers, maybe we should import Chinese, Japanese, German, and Korean executives to run US companies as these foreign companies are kicking the tails off of US companies run by US executives. For that matter maybe we need to import some of the politicians from those same foreign countries as they clearly do a far better job of protecting their workers and their economies than do ours! Just look at what has happened to the US since President Reagan first utter “Free Trade,” and “Global Economy.”