Unemployment is Down, but Are the Jobs Good for Latinos?
January 06 2012
The latest job figures are out and the picture is looking more positive. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5% and 200,000 jobs were added to payrolls. Many of those jobs were created in the retail sector, which employs a significant number of Latinos. While this particular sector was predicted to benefit greatly from the holiday season, there is concern over the lack of upward career mobility that these types of jobs offer our community.
The latest edition of the Monthly Latino Employment Report focuses on the current Latino employment trends in the retail sector and also highlights a job training program that holds great promise for increasing that ever-important level of upward mobility for Latinos who make their living in retail.
From the report:
Trade, transportation, and utilities—the sector that includes retail—posted positive employment growth in nearly every state between March 2010 and March 2011, as seen in Figure 1. Additionally, a majority of the retail trade subsectors have seen mostly positive employment growth over the past six months. Furthermore, one subsector, clothing and clothing accessories stores, posted the second largest growth in employment of 26,700 jobs in November 2011, after having added 6,700 in October and 20,200 in September. Both November and September were well above the industry’s three-month average change of 10,800 (see Figure 2). In comparison to the same months in 2010, these figures represent a significant boost in hiring and are a sign that retail is bouncing back.
Figure 1. Employment in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, 12-Month Percent Change, March 2010–March 2011
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “QCEW State and County Map,” Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, http://beta.bls.gov/maps/cew/US?start_over=true (accessed December 29, 2011). Data are for private establishments.
Figure 2. Change in Employment in Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores,
October 2010–November 2011
Source: NCLR calculation using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, “Table B-1, Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector and selected industry detail,” http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm (accessed December 28, 2011). Total employment excludes farm employment. October and November data are preliminary.
It’s important to note that growth in the retail sector will not boost the U.S. economy or provide real job security as long as there is no room for advancement for the millions of low-wage and temporary workers that make up the sector’s job force. To ensure that the apparent recovery in the retail sector benefits the workers who contribute their labor, including Hispanics, federal policy should:
- Encourage career mobility in retail industries through career pathway programs. Fund pathway programs through bills like the “Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2011” (H.R. 1240) and the “American Jobs Act of 2011” (S.1549).14.
- Prevent efforts to consolidate and cut workforce development program funds. The publicly funded adult education and workforce development system is designed to help adults who have aged out of the public school system improve their skills and transition to higher-level jobs.
- Reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The slowly recovering economy and current levels of high unemployment emphasize the need for a 21st century workforce system with the proper funding to provide workers with the necessary training and employers with highly skilled workers.
Click here to read the full report.
Issues: Job Creation, Economy and Employment, Economy and Workforce, Economic Recovery
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas