There have been lots of lost jobs over the past year due to the slowdown in construction, which traditionally is a big area for Latino workers. Unemployment among all Hispanics reached 6.5 percent in the first quarter, up from the record low of 4.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center. (Among Latino immigrants, itís 7.5 percent.) The jobless rate remained fairly low for most of 2007, but the new numbers show that the slower economy is finally having an impact. From the WSJ:
The Department of Labor estimates that 26% of about seven million construction workers are Hispanic, but independent researchers and industry observers believe the actual proportion of Hispanics in the industry's workforce is significantly higher because many are immigrants who are hired off the books. Indeed, the swelling tide of Latino unemployment has fallen mostly on the shoulders of immigrants. The construction industry's contraction, coupled with federal government operations to enforce immigration, has made undocumented immigrant workers particularly vulnerable to job loss.
The Pew researchers point out that as a group Latino immigrants are a pretty resilient bunch. Many are moving into landscaping, janitorial and other service-sector jobs. Remember, many of them have limited access to social safety nets. Here's an LAT story on the Pew study.