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Latino Unemployment Drops As Jobs Numbers Rise

The disparity between Latino and white unemployment numbers has narrowed over the past year as the share of unemployed Latinos saw another slight drop this month.

Monthly jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 321,000 positions added to the U.S. economy last month, a better than expected performance, the strongest job growth since 2012.

For Latinos, unemployment dropped to 6.6 percent last month, slightly down from a October’s 6.8 percent, but a 32 percent drop from from 8.7 percent in November 2013, according to seasonally adjusted labor force data. November often is a month when businesses add temporary positions for the holiday season.

The unemployment rate was 4.9 percent for whites last month. The numbers were worse for blacks, whose unemployment rate was 11.1 percent.

"Over the year, we have seen a shrinking disparity," said Catherine Singley Harvey, manager of the economic policy project for the National Council of La Raza. "Now that we are in post-recession, we would expect the disparity to shrink. But, we still have a long way to go when it comes to recovery."

The numbers add up to about 24 million people who are over 16 and working and 1.7 million who are available for work, trying to find a job or expect to be called back from a layoff, but not working.

"Latinos are felling anxious about the economy. It was a priority in elections and wages are a top priority. People don't feel they are earning enough to cover their basic expenses," Singley Harvey said.

Many of the jobs created were in retail and administration and waste services, industries where a large share of Latinos work and where a large share of lower wage jobs are found, she said. The categories include janitorial services, temporary work and business support services.

Singley Harvey said Latinos and other voters showed strong support for wage improvement in elections in states that had ballot initiatives on minimum wage increases. She said NCLR does not yet have a breakdown on how Latinos voted on those states' initiatives, but polling in advance showed support of up to 60 percent going into elections.

"We expect both parties to debate this issue this Congress in response to voters taking action on the issue in the elections," Singley Harvey said.

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