Skip to main content

At the Bleeding Edge of the Great Recession

Way back in November, our Lewis Beale predicted that Hispanics would be on the bleeding edge of the recession, even though better times had seen lower unemployment for that population.

He based the prediction in part on the work of Angel Reyes, a Dallas lawyer, and three academics from Texas Tech and Augusta State universities that appeared in the Journal of Business Valuation and Economic Loss Analysis.

They looked at a period from January 1976 to June 2008, and noticed that:

"In summary, the unemployment rate for Hispanics is higher and more volatile than it is for whites. Moreover, our evidence suggests that Hispanics (1) become unemployed sooner in economic downturns than whites, (2) experience longer periods of unemployment, that is, leave the ranks of the unemployed at slower rates than whites, and (3) generally face a "riskier" labor market than whites."

A line in David Leonhardt's look at U.S. job losses in today's New York Times reminded us of that finding. Leonhardt noted that, "The Great Recession of 2008 (and beyond) ... is hurting Latinos more than any other ethnic group. A year ago, a greater share of Latinos held jobs than whites. Today, the two have switched places."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month — February figures come out March 11 — that unemployment among Hispanics hit 9.7 percent in January, compared to 7.6 percent for the population as a whole. Among Hispanic men, who had seen fantastically low unemployment rates just three years ago and 6.2 percent just a year ago, the rate was 11 percent.

The Pew Hispanic Center has been charting the uptick in Hispanic unemployment since 2007 — "even prior to the recession," the center's associate director for research, Rakesh Kochhar, noted.