The latest jobs report shows the Latino unemployment rate continues to drop steadily but still lags behind the national unemployment rate by a big margin.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday shows the Latino unemployment rate went from 8.7 percent in November to 8.3 percent in December. Over the course of 2013, the unemployment rate for Latinos declined by 1.2 percent.
The National Council of La Raza pointed out that while the Latino unemployment rate declined last month, “the Latino labor force participation rate dropped and the total Latino workforce shrank by 261,000.”
Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate in December was 6.7 percent, down from 7.0 percent in November. That’s the lowest it has been since Oct. 2008.
Why did the unemployment rate decline?
But the drop in the national unemployment rate didn’t occur because employers created many jobs. In fact, just 74,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in December. That’s the fewest jobs added in three years and far less than the 200,000 jobs that economics had predicted would be added in December.
Instead, the drop occurred in large part because more Americans stopped looking for jobs. An estimated 917,000 people were deemed discouraged workers, meaning they stopped looking for work because they believe there aren’t any jobs available for them.
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the latest unemployment numbers serve as “a reminder of the work that remains.”
“As our economy continues to make progress, there’s a lot more work to do,” he said in a statement. “Though December’s job growth was less than expected, we continue to focus on the longer-term trend in the economy : 2.2 million private sector jobs added and a 1.2 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the course of 2013.”
Furman also noted that over the course of 2013, the national unemployment rate dropped by 1.2 percent. From Oct. 2009 to Dec. 2013, it dropped even more — by 3.3 percent.
Teenagers saw the biggest decline in unemployment rate last year. Women, African-Americans and Latinos also saw declines.
Number of long-term unemployed dips
Furthermore, Furman pointed out that the number of long-term unemployed — people who’ve been without a job for 27 weeks or more — has been “falling steadily as the economic recovery continues.”
The latest jobs report shows the number of long-term unemployed dropped by 894,000 in the year 2013. In the month of December, 3.9 million people were considered long-term unemployed individuals. That’s down from 4 million in November. This group of unemployed individuals accounted for 37.7 percent of the unemployed population last month.
The Senate is currently debating whether to reinstate unemployment benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans after they expired at the end of December. A 60-37 vote in the Senate on Tuesday helped break a filibuster and move forward with a plan to extend the unemployment benefits for three months.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 36 Hispanic organizations, sent a letter to the Senate on Monday, urging senators to extend the unemployment benefits.
“With Latino unemployment at 8.7 percent, above the national average of 7 percent, Latinos know the hardships of living through periods of unemployment,” the letter stated. “A timely extension of unemployment insurance benefits will be critical for many Americans, who have already been squeezed by multiple rounds of federal budget cuts in recent years, leading to less support for job training, child care, rental assistance, and education.”
While most Democrats support the Senate proposal to reinstate the long-term unemployment benefits, Republicans have said they would support it but only if the cost is offset through a series of budget cuts. A handful of Republicans are offering a proposal to offset the cost by changing the tax code to prohibit undocumented immigrants from claiming a child tax credit.