New Overtime Rule to Boost Economic Outlook for America’s Middle-Class Latino Families

From 1975 until yesterday afternoon, American workers making more than $23,660 per year were ineligible for federal overtime protection. Thanks to an update to that rule from the U.S. Department of Labor, the threshold on overtime pay has now been raised to include all employees earning less than $47,476 per year.

TimeforOT_Sharegraphic-02 (2)Approximately 12.5 million Americans will now be able to benefit from overtime pay. Of those, more than two million Latinos, or one in three of all salaried Latino employees, will be eligible for overtime, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The news of the updated overtime rule is a welcome respite for American workers who, for too long, were working well over 40 hours per week without receiving appropriate compensation. The rule will also go a long way to closing the extreme pay gap felt by women and minorities.

“We are very pleased that the administration has acted on behalf of America’s workers who are the backbone of our economy. The rule will help ensure middle-class workers are able to see a greater benefit from their hard work. This rule will not only help individual families better meet their own needs, but will create additional economic stimulus and spending that will improve our nation’s overall economic outlook,” said NCLR Vice President Eric Rodriguez.

More information about the updated overtime rule and overtime coverage can be found on the the Department of Labor’s website.

March adds 215,000 jobs; unemployment jumps slightly.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the American economy added 215,000 jobs in March. February saw the addition of 245,000 jobs, which led to some discouragement. The national unemployment rate rose slightly to 5 percent, following a four-month decline, while Latino unemployment rose to 5.6 percent.

March Jobs Report

Among all sectors of the economy, the retail sector saw the greatest growth in March, adding 48,000 jobs. Latinos make up a greater share of retail employees compared to their representation in the total workforce.

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Wages Remain Stagnant Despite Low Unemployment

NCLR’s final Latino jobs report for 2015 was released today, highlighting continued job growth across the country. In December, 292,000 jobs were added, a welcome surge to ring in the New Year. Job growth was strongest in construction, where nearly 45,000 jobs were added in December alone, offering Latinos significant economic opportunities. Hispanics currently account for a full third of all construction workers in the United States.

While the addition of nearly 300,000 jobs is a good indicator that the American economy continues to grow, the overall unemployment rate has remained unchanged at 5 percent for the last three consecutive months. Unemployment among Latinos also remained virtually unchanged at 6.3 percent, down from 6.4 percent in November and October. Because Latinos are more likely to hold low- and poverty-wage jobs, they are disproportionately affected by wage stagnation. Despite the Federal Reserve’s estimates of a 3.5 percent growth in wages in 2015, actual wage growth for the year peaked at just 2 percent.

While we are happy to see a strong month of job growth close out 2015, problems such as wage stagnation must be addressed in order for our community to feel the full effects of our nation’s economic recovery.

Download the full report:

Congress Must Do More to Help Working Families

By Amelia Collins, Associate Policy Analyst, NCLR

According to new data from the U.S. Census Current Population Survey (CPS), income levels and poverty rates for most Americans are unchanged from last year and vast disparities persist between Hispanics and Whites. The Census released the latest data on income and poverty in the United States late last week and includes the CPS, the source for the national official poverty measure. The second set of data released, the American Community Survey (ACS), offers an economic picture at the state and local levels.

Overall, 14.8% of Americans live in poverty. For Whites, the poverty rate in 2014 was 10.1%, less than half the rate of 23.6% for Hispanics.

The median income in 2014 for Hispanics remains below prerecession levels at $42,491. The median income for Whites in 2014 was 42% higher at $60,256.

Although, according to the CPS, there has been no significant change in the overall poverty rate for Latinos over the past year, the number of Hispanics living in poverty has decreased, even with an uptick in the overall Latino population. According to the ACS, in 2014, 252,000 fewer Hispanics, including about 160,000 Latino kids, lived in poverty. This decrease comes even as the total Latino population grew by 1.3 million, including 97,000 children, from 2013 to 2014.

While academics can debate the best source to determine poverty rates, there is no questioning what Congress should do in response to these new numbers: they must pass legislation to help hardworking American families stay out of poverty.

Improving jobs and the economy remain a top priority for the Latino community. A 2014 poll by Latino Decisions and NCLR found that a majority of Latinos continue to worry about their financial security, with 70% concerned they are not earning enough to cover their basic expenses. Unfortunately, Congress has yet to take action on policies that would help millions of Americans stay above the poverty line. Two policies Congress should advance this year to respond to Latino voters’ economic priorities are:

  • Save expiring provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The EITC and the CTC are refundable tax credits for American families. Improvements to these pro-work programs made in 2009 are set to expire in 2017. If Congress does not act to make those critical expansions permanent, five million Latino families stand to lose an average of $1,000 each. In total, 16 million Americans will be pushed into or deeper into poverty.
  • Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 an hour. Doing so would increase the income for millions of working families, including 5 million Latino workers, who are concentrated in low-wage jobs. Persistent wage stagnation has left many families without the means necessary to cover necessary expenses. According to U.S. Census data, over 1.2 million Hispanics who worked full-time year-round lived below the poverty line. These hardworking families deserve to earn a living wage.

As the Latino population continues to grow and their share of the electorate increases, politicians must pay increasing attention to the economic well-being and the priorities of the Latino community. It starts with action for working families.

No Change in Latino Unemployment Rate in July

The national unemployment rose slightly to 6.2 percent last month, while the Latino unemployment rate stayed somewhat higher at 7.8 percent, according to our latest Latino Monthly Employment Report. Overall, U.S. employment increased by 209,00 workers.

In this month’s report, we also delve into the recent NCLR/Latino Decisions poll on Latino attitudes toward the economy. A key takeaway from the poll: although the economy is improving, Latinos say they are still waiting for their recovery to take shape. Read more in the full report:

Latino Monthly Employment Report August 2014

Stern Words for Congress on Immigration: Day Three of #NCLR14

The Economy and Early Child Education were also major themes for day three.

Latinos Place Economy as Number-One Concern

Attend NCLR Economic Policy Workshops to Learn How You Can Help Build a Better Future

Jar of Money --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisLatinos consistently rank the health of the economy as their primary concern, especially in the past few years as our country has slowly emerged from the Great Recession. Analysts at NCLR have designed workshops for the 2014 NCLR Annual Conference about critical economic policy issues: retirement security, housing finance, banking, workforce development, federal budget, and more. Our aim is to engage in a lively discussion with Conference attendees on these important policy topics that ultimately impact all of our pocketbooks.

We hope you are coming to Los Angeles to attend the NCLR Annual Conference and that you’re as excited as we are to participate in the workshops. We need your energy, feedback, and questions to have a real success. We also hope that you learn from the excellent speakers we have lined up to share the latest policy information with our community, and discover about ways to get involved in helping build a better future for our country. A poll of Latino voters from NCLR and Latino Decisions set to be released on Monday, July 21 finds that the economic crisis is indeed still very personal for Latino families.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

9:00–10:30 a.m.
Policy Workshop: Is Washington Working for the Latino Community? An Update from the 113th Congress

While the 113th Congress is frequently described as the most partisan and least effective Congress in history, recent bipartisan efforts to pass a budget, advance immigration reform, and overhaul our housing finance system suggest that there could be substantive progress on Latino priorities heading into the midterm elections and beyond. Hear from NCLR policy experts and Congressman Tony Cardenas’ Chief of Staff about what’s happening on the Hill and in the Obama administration to move a Latino policy agenda forward.

11:00 a.m.–noon
Affiliate Lounge Session: Take it to Washington, DC: Help Shape the 2015 Latino Economic Policy Agenda

Campaign representatives from the group Latinos United for a Fair Economy would like to hear from you regarding various economic issues of high importance to the Latino community, such as funding for education, job training, and infrastructure. Your feedback will help shape the economic policy priorities included in the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda’s 2015 Latino Economic Policy Agenda.

 

conferencebanners-04Sunday, July 20, 2014

9:00–10:30 a.m.
Health and Community Family and Wealth-Building Workshop: Ready? Set? Retire! Addressing Disparities in Latino Retirement Preparedness

Two-thirds of Latino workers lack access to a workplace retirement savings plan. This workshop will share information about how Latinos utilize retirement plans now, and explore how new retirement policy proposals may impact retirement readiness among Latinos.

3:30–5:00 p.m.
Town Hall: The State of the Economy: Giving Latinos a Fighting Chance

Five years after the financial crisis, Latinos still face significant financial challenges. This town hall will discuss policies impacting access to financial services for Latinos and new immigrants. Keynote address by Senator Elizabeth Warren.


Monday, July 21

9:00–10:30 a.m.
Policy Workshop: Building the Pipeline to Good Jobs

Too many graduates of workforce development programs feel powerless against common abuses in low-wage jobs. This workshop will explore promising approaches to empower workers to stand up for their rights and improve working conditions in key industries.

Banking in Color: How Can Financial Institutions Better Serve Communities of Color?

bankingincolor_sharegraphic_blog (3)As America edges closer to majority-minority status, new research indicates that communities of color face considerable challenges in meeting their needs in today’s financial services marketplace. Despite most reporting that they own a bank account, use smartphones, and put away monthly savings, large barriers to financial access still exist in the Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and Latino communities.

Banking in Color: New Findings on Financial Access for Low- to Moderate-Income Communities, a new report by NCLR, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, offers a unique look at the financial lives of our nation’s low- to moderate-income population. It takes a deep dive into financial access data in places with large communities of color: Chicago, Houston, and southern Florida.

The organizations behind this report are a part of a coalition known as the Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities. The coalition tapped its large network of community-based organizations in the target locations to learn how underserved communities interact with banks and save money, as well as whether the financial services industry is working for communities of color.  Continue reading

Federal Standards for Paid Leave Will Help Workers Stay Healthy and Productive

By Alicia Criado, Field Coordinator, Economic Policy Project

Most workers have the option to earn paid time off for when they get sick or need to care for a newborn child, right?

Wrong.

According to a new brief by CLASP, only 30% of low-wage workers have access to paid sick days and nearly half of all workers in the lowest 35% of wage earners have no paid personal time, sick time, family leave, or paid vacation.workers

CLASP’s research reminds us that paid leave is a key form of compensation. Without it, workers must forgo wages when they take time off because they or a loved one is ill. Yet paid leave disproportionately benefits higher-income earners, leaving out many low-wage workers and workers of color. According to CLASP’s research, 47% of all Hispanic workers in the U.S. have access to paid sick days, compared to 64% of White workers and 62% percent of Black workers. In addition, just 25% of Latino worker have access to some paid parental leave, compared to 50% of White workers and 43% of Black workers. Without paid leave, low-wage workers face a double blow: lower compensation and unfair tradeoffs between health and economic security for them and their families.

Now more than ever, it is important for decision-makers to support policies that boost compensation, including access to paid leave. That’s because the majority of post-recession job growth is in low-wage jobs, and economic inequality is at record highs. Working families are struggling to cover their basic expenses. They deserve to not be penalized for taking a day to care for themselves or a loved one.

In today’s economy, a majority of Latinos prioritize having a protected and steady job. Thus, many Hispanic workers in the low-wage market do not ask for days off for fear of losing their jobs. In some cases, taking unpaid leave is not an option when workers cannot make ends meet. Since Latinos are more likely to be employed in the low-wage labor market and work in part-time or temporary positions, they rarely have access to benefits such as paid vacation or guarantees under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—a national law that allows workers to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year to care for themselves or their loved ones. Without paid parental leave, many workers, particularly working mothers, are forced to choose between a day’s wages or caring for a family member in need.

Paid leave not only helps keep workers and their families healthy but also allows workers to stay productive. Unfortunately, there is no federal standard requiring paid leave benefits. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are the only states that have their own paid leave laws. These states serve as blueprints for national legislation that would allow workers to earn paid sick days and protect the economic security of their families. Several proposals in Congress would create a national standard for paid sick days, such as the “Healthy Families Act,” or provide 12 weeks of paid leave per year for employees for health-related events, such as the “FAMILY Act.”

NCLR and other advocates believe that the time to broaden the protections offered by FMLA is now. We must pass federal legislation that would prevent all workers from having to choose between earning wages or forfeiting their jobs when facing family responsibilities.

Income Inequality By the Numbers

Obama_inequalityspeech

In a speech in Washington this week, President Obama said that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time.” Speaking at the Arts and Recreation Center in the low-income southeast Washington neighborhood of Anacostia, the president underscored an issue that has repeatedly ranked at the top of concerns Americans have about the future and their own upward mobility. Indeed, Latinos have said in poll after poll that the economy is their top priority as well and agree, as the president pointed out, that the “basic bargain at the heart of the economy has frayed.” President Obama said that his last three years in office would be dedicated to addressing the ever-widening income gap.

Watch the president’s whole speech below followed by a look at income inequality by the numbers:

A look at some of the statistics related to income inequality, some of which the president outlined, are revealing and provide some insight into the challenge that lay ahead.  Continue reading