Latinos lead in insufficient work hours

This month, the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) Monthly Latino Unemployment Report focuses on the important issue of underemployment. “Underemployment,” as The State of Working America states, is “a more comprehensive measure of slack in the labor market than unemployment.”

The book goes on:

Underemployment includes workers who meet the official definition of unemployment as well as: 1) those who are working part time but want and are available to work full time (“involuntary” part timers), and 2) those who want and are available to work and have looked for work in the last year but have given up actively seeking work (“marginally attached” workers). While this is the most comprehensive measure of labor underutilization available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it does not include workers who are underemployed in a “skills or experience” sense (as in, say, a mechanical engineer working as a barista).

African Americans generally have the highest rates of underemployment among the major racial and ethnic groups. However, for much of 2009, Latinos had a slightly higher rate. This year, the Latino underemployment rate has averaged about 20 percent, while the black rate has averaged about 23 percent, and the white rate about 12 percent.

NCLR’s report also pulls apart the underemployment rate to examine the rate of involuntary part-time work. The share of workers who want full-time work but only have part-time work out of all workers is another important measure of hardship. Many of these individuals are struggling to make ends meet.

If one examines this involuntary-part-time rate from Nov. 2011 to Oct. 2012, Latinos have the highest rate. The share of Latino workers who only have part-time work but desire full-time work is 10.3 percent. For blacks, it is 7.7 percent, and for whites it is 5 percent. We need much stronger job creation to put these part-time workers in full-time jobs.