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A number of recent studies highlight the difficulties many paint workers, including Hispanics, face due to Covid. The Latinx community is over-represented in industries like hospitality and construction, which have suffered badly from the pandemic. But there are bright spots too: Hispanic unemployment began to decline rapidly this summer as pandemic restrictions eased and work returned to these sectors. The entirety of the statistics is mixed, showing areas where Hispanics are at risk and places where there are opportunities for advancement.
While data from early 2020 showed that Hispanics (especially Hispanic women) had the highest unemployment rate, thanks in large part to the Covid pandemic, those numbers began to improve rapidly in the third quarter of this year. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows marked improvement across all races, with a particularly rapid decline for Hispanics, partly due to the resurgence of industries where Latinx is heavily employed.
In particular, Hispanic unemployment, which peaked above 16% earlier this year, has fallen to 8% according to the latest government data. However, that number is still higher than the total population unemployment rate of 6.5%, while it is below the unemployment rate of other ethnic groups, including African Americans. As Covid lawns rise, so do Covid restrictions and unemployment claims. This could mean another reversal in Hispanic employment this winter.
Where Hispanic Employment Has Been Hit Hardest
The impact of the Covid pandemic on Hispanic employment varies significantly by region and industry. In some industries where the Spanish representation is highest, such as For example, service occupations and construction, between February and May of this year, employment fell by 27.2% and 15.7%, respectively. In industries with a disproportionately low proportion of Hispanic workers, such as occupations as well as management and finance occupations, the decline was only 6.5% and 4.6%, respectively.
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Geographically, the largest increases in Hispanic unemployment over the same period were in Massachusetts (-26%), Nevada (-25.5%), and New Jersey (-18%). The states where Hispanic employment was least affected, according to the Economic Policy Institute, include New Mexico (-4.6%), Utah (-6%), Texas (-9.3%), and Georgia (-9 ,1%).
Hispanic employment has not performed as badly among some cities with the highest Hispanic populations – including Austin, Los Angeles, and Houston. This may be due in part to the wide variety of industries present in these cities – such as technology in Austin and oil and healthcare in Houston – which have created a buffer for Hispanics from the devastation that Covid has inflicted on more sensitive sectors such as food and drink Hospitality.
Looking ahead, like all Americans, Latinx workers could benefit from understanding these employment patterns and finding ways to engage in retraining or otherwise positioning themselves for careers in sectors less prone to Covid. And while Covid is sure to continue to impact travel, hospitality, and construction in the coming months, hopes for a successful vaccination program in 2021 have also bolstered optimistic views about the return of these sectors.