As we commemorate Labor Day—a look at Latino millennials in the workforce

By Karla Bachmann, Program Manager, Workforce Development

Latino millennials are an increasingly important part of the American workforce. In the first quarter of 2015, according to Pew Research, there were 53.5 million millennials in the labor force, and more than 20% were Latino. That percentage is expected to grow exponentially.

Mi Casa Bank Teller Training

Mi Casa Bank Teller Training

While we have seen a marked increase in high school and college graduation rates among Hispanic youth, both important determinants of future employment, millennial Latinos continue to be underemployed—which affects their perception of future economic stability and prosperity. According to recent surveys, while young Latinos agree that the economy has improved, many are concerned about the weak labor market and career mobility opportunities.

Those fears are based on real numbers: Latinos between 17–20 years of age who have a high school diploma have an underemployment rate of 41.9%, while those between 21–24 years of age with a bachelor’s degree have a 16.3% underemployment rate. Many of these individuals are either employed in part-time jobs, unemployed, or have given up looking for work. Individuals who lack post-secondary education end up in low-skill, low-wage jobs that pay at or near minimum-wage levels. Many individuals work two or three jobs to support their families and have little opportunity to enter into jobs that promise upward mobility.

Mi Casa Bank Teller Training 2Programs like those that NCLR and its Affiliate organizations offer, in partnership with corporations looking for a trained workforce, are critical in helping to bridge the employment gap. One of those programs is a bank teller training developed with the financial support of Wells Fargo, piloted with three NCLR Affiliates: Association House of Chicago; El Barrio, in Cleveland; and Youth Development, Inc. in Albuquerque. The training prepares Latino youth for jobs in the banking and financial sector that lead to financial and career advancement. By providing Latino youth with meaningful vocational training that builds on their existing skills, NCLR and its Affiliates can help Latino youth be more gainfully employed and on a career pathway to economic advancement. NCLR projects that by exposing Latino youth to careers in the financial sector, they and their families are more likely to be financially literate, less prone to use predatory financial products, and engaged in asset building.

The future of America’s workforce is clearly tied to the success of Latino millennials, and today, as we commemorate Labor Day, we highlight the important work being done and the work ahead to ensure that this critical sector of America’s labor force is set on a path to success.

Latino Unemployment Remains High, Holds Steady at 8.4%

cement masonIt was a less than stellar January for employment. Last month, 113,000 new jobs were added to the workforce, but that is remarkably low given that on average in 2013, 194,000 jobs were added every month.

In our regular Monthly Latino Employment Report, we take a look at how the Latino workforce was buoyed by job gains in construction, hospitality, and other industries where Latinos are overrepresented. However, at 8.4 percent, Latino unemployment is still too high.

Read the whole report below.

Latino Unemployment Drops to 8.3 percent: Report

highway guardrailEmployment in the United States increased by 74,000 workers last month, according to the latest figures from the Department of Labor, which releases employment data on the first Friday of each month. It was the smallest increase in the number of jobs in three years. The unemployment rate, however, did drop from 7 percent to 6.7 percent, its lowest level since October 2008. The drop is due mostly to the fact that more people stopped looking for employment.

The Latino unemployment rate also fell .4 points from 8.7 percent to 8.3 percent. That welcome news, however, is blunted by the fact the the Latino labor participation also dropped. In December, the Latino workforce shrank by 261,000

Today’s numbers are stark reminders of all that’s left to do to get Americans back to work and to get our economy booming again. One of the ways we can do that is by raising the federal minimum wage. This year, the Senate is is preparing to advance and vote on legislation that would dramatically increase the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015. An increase would guarantee that more people who work in low-wage jobs can afford the basics needed to live and to help grow the economy.

You can read more about the fight to raise the minimum wage for Latino workers in our first Monthly Latino Employment Report (below) of 2014. And, if you haven’t already done so, join our Mobile Action Network today and stay updated on the latest news and information on issues that affect Latino workers and families. Just text JOBS to 62571 and you’ll be signed up!

Hyatt Hotels and UNITE HERE Announce Agreement Affecting Housekeeping Staff

End of Global Boycott of Hyatt is Near

By Catherine Singley

NCLR is elated at the news that Hyatt Hotels and UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality workers, reached a breakthrough agreement yesterday on contracts in four major cities where Hyatt housekeepers have struggled for better working conditions and a fair process for organizing.  In February, NCLR, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) joined a global boycott of Hyatt hotels in response to widespread evidence of harmful working conditions for hotel housekeepers, who are predominantly women of color, including Latinas. The groups pledged to not hold any conventions, conferences, special events or major meetings at Hyatt hotels covered by the boycott.

According to a joint press statement by Hyatt and UNITE HERE, “the contracts will provide retroactive wage increases and maintain quality health care and pension benefits. The proposed new contracts would cover associates into 2018.  A key provision of the agreement establishes a fair process, which includes a mechanism for employees at a number of Hyatt hotels to vote on whether they wish to be represented by UNITE HERE.”

The global boycott will officially end after ratification of the contracts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, and Chicago.  NCLR will continue to monitor the progress of the settlement and looks forward to the resolution of this matter.

Hyatt and UNITE HERE’s announcement has already attracting significant media attention:

Hyatt, Unite Here reach tentative deal, Chicago Tribune

Hyatt and union agree on terms, The New York Times

Hyatt Hotels, union resolve dispute, The Miami Herald

Hyatt Hotels reaches contract with union, resolving longtime dispute, The Washington Post

Hyatt, union group end three-year dispute, San Francisco Business Times

Hyatt, Unite Here reach union deal, Hotel News Now

A good day for hotel workers, The American Prospect

Invest in Today for a Brighter Future for all Floridians

By Natalie Carlier, Regional Field Coordinator, Civic Engagement Department, NCLR

CHILDREN youth sitting togetherIn our next video installment we meet Maria Pinzon from Tampa, Florida.  Maria is the Executive Director of Hispanic Services Council, an NCLR Affiliate that works to improve the quality of life of all residents in Hillsborough County by promoting academic success and preparing Latinos to excel in today’s workforce.  Every day Maria sees the impact of federal budget cuts in her community.  She recognizes that Floridians need a federal budget that puts working families before politics and echoes our society’s highest priorities:  education and workforce development.

What does it say about our country’s values when the needs of the wealthy and corporations come before our youth, our students, and our community’s ability to pursue the American Dream?  The federal budget should uphold programs that invest in education and our youth’s future.  It should increase opportunities for our most vulnerable children to access education programs, workers to receive job training, and our families to move forward.

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Unemployment Is Down Nationally, but Not for Latino Youth

cement masonThe April job numbers are out, and the signs are encouraging.  According to the Department of Labor, job growth in April was better than expected.  Last month, 165,000 jobs were added and the unemployment rate remained about the same at 7.5%.

But what is the employment picture for Latinos?  In our latest Monthly Latino Employment Report, which we released today, we note that last month the unemployment rate for Latinos dipped to 9%, a slight decrease from March, when it was 9.2 percent.  At 65.7 percent, however, the Latino labor force participation rate remains the highest of any demographic group.

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Elevating Latino Budget Priorities on Capitol Hill

By Alicia Criado, Policy Associate, Economic and Employment Policy Project, NCLR

NCLR Vice President, Eric Rodriguez at the Capitol Hill briefing.

NCLR Vice President, Eric Rodriguez at the Capitol Hill briefing.

“We understand the defense budget strengthens us by protecting us from exterior threats and negative forces.  Defense protects the exterior.  Well, we secure your interior.  And that’s every bit as important,” said Nilda Ruiz, President and CEO of Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), during a briefing held by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) on February 19, 2013.  The briefing, titled “Impact of Sequestration & Federal Budget Decisions on Hispanic Families,” was an opportunity to help congressional staffers get up to speed on Latino priorities in the ongoing federal budget debates.  Ruiz spoke in response to the proposed March 1 cuts to nondefense discretionary programs

NHLA Chair Hector Sanchez moderated the panel, which included Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, Center for Budget & Policy Priorities; Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR; and Nilda Ruiz.  In addition to providing staffers with a thorough overview of the federal budget landscape, Nissenbaum highlighted the important role that refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit have played in strengthening working Latino families and increasing the educational achievement of their children.  Rodriguez reminded staffers that it is wrong to ask struggling Latino families to sacrifice health care, education, job prospects, and their children’s well-being, since they are already among those who have been hit hardest by the Great Recession.  He emphasized that NCLR will continue to ensure that the Latino voice is heard in Congress in order to prevent any more pain on workers and their families, who have already sacrificed so much.

APM, an NCLR Affiliate, is one of the many community-based organizations helping to build better futures for Latino families.  Ruiz helped put a face on the impact of the upcoming budget cuts by sharing a story of one of their clients, Norma Morales.  Norma has benefited greatly from APM’s services, such as housing counseling and job training, and has gone from being homeless to being a homeowner. Today she works for the president of Philadelphia’s City Council.  Ruiz underscored her visit to Capitol Hill and the need to stop the March 1 cuts because “APM and organizations like us form the ‘interior defense systems’ that keep this country strong, safe, and progressing in a universally beneficial way.”

Read more about what’s at stake for Latino families across the nation.

Where Do Green Jobs and Growing Latino Populations Overlap?

By Ricky Garza, Communications Department, NCLR

Photo: Green Jobs Now

Photo: Green Jobs Now

In a new report using data from the 2010 Census and Brookings Institution, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) identified the five top areas in America where Latinos are poised to fill growing roles in the burgeoning sustainable economy.

According to the report, the “bright green” metro areas are:

  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Los Angeles, California

I’m from McAllen, and the strong rating for my hometown, which is 91 percent Hispanic, didn’t surprise me.  What was surprising and unusual was the inclusion of traditionally non-Latino metro areas such as Knoxville and Little Rock.  The report is based not only on growth, but also on the percent/share and size of the Latino workforce.  Therefore, places with great, new potential for impact, such as Little Rock and Knoxville, rise to the top. These cities have Latino populations under 10 percent, but they are quickly gaining ground. Continue reading