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Latino unemployment rate remains high at 10.5 percent despite slight job gains

"The leisure and hospitality industries as well as the retail industries—have taken the longest to kind of recover," says economic analyst Meggie Weiler.
Image: People  wait outside Kentucky Career Center in Frankfort
People line up outside Kentucky Career Center prior to its opening to find assistance with their unemployment claims in Frankfort, Key., on June 18, 2020.Bryan Woolston / Reuters file

While Latinos saw a decrease in unemployment this month, their unemployment rate continues to be significantly higher than their pre-coronavirus pandemic average.

The unemployment rate among Latinos went from 12.9 percent in July to 10.5 percent in August, which is over two times higher than the 4 percent unemployment rate Latinos had before the pandemic, according to a new report from UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.

While the latest numbers show a significant drop from April, when Latinos saw a record 18.9 percent unemployment rate, they also show that economic recovery among Hispanic families has recently slowed down, Meggie Weiler, a senior economic policy analyst at UnidosUS, told NBC News.

"Latinos have definitely been among the hardest hit, which is clear from the unemployment numbers," said Weiler. "The industries where Latinos are overrepresented or disproportionately represented are largely the leisure and hospitality industries as well as the retail industries — and those are the industries that have taken the longest to kind of recover."

Overall, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, compared to 1.8 million jobs in July. Such an uptick is still small compared to June, when 4.8 million jobs were added, according to the report. But at the same time, the number of permanently lost jobs has also increased.

More than half a million jobs "have simply gone away"

At least 534,000 jobs have been permanently lost since July, contributing to the 2.1 million jobs that have been permanently lost since February, according to the report. Weiler said such numbers will likely continue to increase as businesses remain closed or work at limited capacity.

"These jobs have simply gone away and the problem with that is it creates a long term unemployment problem," said Weiler. "New jobs are going to have to be created in order for people to go back to work at that point. That becomes more of a longterm issue because is not just about when is it safe to reopen."

In order to help Latinos face the longterm consequences of coronavirus-related unemployment, it's important to equip them with the necessary resources, said Weiler.

In their report, UnidosUS recommends that Congress passes the HEROES Act "which provides support for the states and Latino families" and extends the $600 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for workers.

"We found that that is critical for Latino households during this time," Weiler said about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The organization also urges states to "improve their antiquated unemployment insurance systems to remove barriers that Latino workers face when trying to access benefits."

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