A recent study by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) speaks to an issue that concerns many young Latino men in the United States: unemployment. There are more job seekers in the U.S. than there are jobs, but those with more experience and education will generally fare better than others. However, even with more experience, the study shows that Latino men will face higher unemployment and underemployment than White men.
The study explains that unemployment can often be an unreliable statistic, while underemployment can offer a better understanding of the current employment climate for Latino men. Underemployment is described as “individuals who are out of work, working part-time but prefer full-time work, or gave up searching for a job but are still available to work.”
Currently, the underemployment rate for all Latino workers is 16.2%. The percentage for Blacks is 20.5% and 9.9% for Whites. According to the report posted by NCLR, the underemployment percentage for Latinos is greatly impacted by involuntary part-time work.
Some of the specific findings of the NCLR report include:
- Latino men in their 20s have the most work experience compared to their peers;
- Work experience boosts employment prospects for young Latino men. The same cannot be said for all workers in the same age group; and
- Work experience makes no difference in the likelihood that Latino men in their late 20s will work full-time, contrary to other individuals in the same age group.
I'd like to look at each of these findings a little bit more closely. First, the study found that Latino men in their twenties, on average, have more work experience than their peers. Although Latinos and Blacks show similar amounts of work experience in their later teen years, Latinos pull ahead once they hit age twenty. Specifically, Latino males who are between the ages of 20-25 will typically have 4.3 years worth of work experience. The number rises to 10.1 for Latinos who fall between the ages of 26-30.
Next, how does work experience boost employment opportunities for Latinos and other ethnicities? No matter the group or age, the more education a person has, the more job opportunity he or she has. However, the same cannot be said for work experience. For Latino men ages 16-19, they “are the only group for whom additional work experience significantly boosts the likelihood of employment (3%).” Interestingly enough, work experience actually lowers the likelihood of employment for White males (5%) and has no real effect on Black males.
Finally, the study found that work experience actually makes no difference in the likelihood that Latino men in their late twenties will work full-time. This finding is to say that while work experience helps young Latino men find work, it does not help them to find full-time work. However, that is not the case for other groups. Latinos, Blacks, Whites, females, and males will all see an increased chance of getting full-time employment with more work experience except for Latino men ages 26-30.
So, what are some circumstances that impact Latino men in their twenties? Why do some groups differ from others? The NCLR study found a few potential reasons:
- Occupational Clustering: Latino men are more likely to compete for lower-wage jobs with other, similarly situated Latino men.
- Immigration Status: According to NCLR's findings, foreign-born males are more likely to be a part of the labor force than are native-born males.
- Social Networks: This is similar to occupational clustering. The majority of Latino men use similar avenues when searching for work. Latinos are more apt to rely on friends or family for work than other groups and are less likely to market themselves with resumes, job fairs, or classified ads.
- Hiring Bias: Employers may make unfair hiring decisions based on what they think the “right” kind of work experience is for any particular job.