Hispanic unemployment in California, which has been rising rapidly, reached 15.7% in the quarter ending June 30, exceeding African American joblessness for the first time in the current economic downturn, according to a new analysis.
The state’s Latino unemployment is projected to hit nearly 18% a year from now, says the report released Monday by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
Nationally, black unemployment continues to surpass Hispanic joblessness and that pattern is not expected to change soon, according to Algernon Austin, the study’s author. Still, across the country, unemployment among Hispanics has increased faster than for other groups.
Among 12 states with enough data to compare unemployment by ethnicity, California is the only one where Hispanic joblessness leads all other groups.
“One thing that is driving the Hispanic unemployment rate is the collapse of the housing market, which means the collapse of construction,” Austin said. “That has been a big factor.”
But in California, it is Hispanic women who appear to be tipping the unemployment scales. Latino female unemployment began overtaking that of black women earlier this year, according to Austin’s data. Black males still have higher unemployment in the state than Hispanic males. “Construction is certainly part of the story,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s the full story” of Latino job losses.
As the recession took hold in late 2007, black unemployment in California was 9.8%, compared with 7% for Hispanics and 4.6% for whites, the report says. For the second quarter of this year, black unemployment is estimated at 15.3% — slightly less than Hispanics — and white unemployment was 8.6%.