Unemployment among Hispanic workers rises at faster pace in October than overall rate

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 02: People walk through downtown Manhattan on December 02, 2022 in New York City.

The labor market showed greater deterioration for Hispanic workers, whose unemployment rate rose more than that of the U.S.’, according to data released Friday by the Department of Labor.

The overall unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 3.9% last month, the highest level since January 2022, against expectations that it would hold steady at 3.8%. Among Hispanic Americans, the jobless rate rose 0.2% to 4.8%.

The line chart shows the unemployment rates for Black, Hispanic and white people broken down by gender from January 2021 through October 2023.

Black Americans, the group with the highest jobless percentage in America, saw their unemployment rate tick up 0.1% to 5.8% last month. The record low for Black unemployment is 5.4% in October 2019.

“When averages tick downwards, there’s often larger movement at the bottom end of the wage distribution,” Julia Pollak, ZipRecruiter’s chief economist, told CNBC. “Low-wage workers, less-educated workers and those facing barriers to employment suffer the brunt of any slowdown in the labor market.”

Black and Hispanic Americans were hit particularly hard by the business shutdowns in the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the unemployment rate for Black workers peaking at 16.8% in 2020 and the Hispanic jobless rate surging as high as 18.8%. The overall unemployment rate hit a high of 14.7% in April 2020.

Asian Americans, while having the lowest jobless rate among different demographic groups, saw the biggest percentage increase in unemployment. The rate rose 0.3% to 3.1% in October.

The Federal Reserve, which has a dual mandate that includes full employment, has deliberately tried to slow the economy to tackle inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said earlier this week that slower growth and a softer labor market are still “likely” needed to tame price pressures.

The participation rate for Hispanic workers declined to 66.9% last month from 67.3% in September. Overall, the labor force participation rate declined slightly to 62.7%, while the labor force contracted by 201,000.

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