People wait in line to enter a job fair in New York August 15, 2011. (Photo : Reuters)
Unemployment has always been a troubling issue affecting the American people and the Latino community is not exempt. Both Latino immigrants and US-born Latinos struggle to find employment to fulfill dreams of home ownership, education and stable income.
Statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor in August state that the unemployment rate among Latinos reached 10.3 percent in July 2012. That rate is at least 2 percent higher than the national unemployment rate as a whole.
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The statistics released show that the unemployment rate was much higher among Latino women, 10.5 percent, than among Latino men, 8.2 percent. Both rates, however, have seen a steady decline in unemployment over the past year.
A Gallup poll released in August puts the national unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, with little to no change in the past three months. The same Gallup poll put unemployment among Latinos at a higher rate than statistics by the Department of Labor at 11.1 percent.
These statistics show the alarming rate at which unemployment among Latinos is surpassing that of the national average. As the presidential election nears, candidates from both parties look to appeal to the Latino community in issues that affect them the most, including unemployment.
In June, President Obama announced a plan called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is designed to allow illegal immigrants who entered the United States before their sixteenth birthday to apply for a two-year deportation deferment. The DACA also grants those accepted work permits for two years. The program officially came into effect in August.
No statistics have been released to demonstrate the number of young illegal immigrants that have taken advantage of the DACA. The requirements for applying, however, have slowed down the application process for many. In addition, applications must go through a rigorous screening and approval procedure before applicants are accepted.
DACA work permits would mean a new crop of legal Latino workers, further increasing the number of Latinos looking for work. It could, however, also mean that previously unemployed Hispanics would now have access to part-time or full-time employment. Although the DACA grants two-year deportation deferment and work permits for young undocumented Latinos, many do not have access to affordable education, further hindering them in the job market.
If Republican Mitt Romney is elected in November is could mean the end of this employment hope for young undocumented Latinos. Although Romney has declined to confirm whether he would keep the plan in place if he is elected, he did tell reporters at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference, "Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive order. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure."
Following the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Latinos will have a lot to consider when choosing which candidate will better help them reach higher levels of employment. Some Latinos, however, cannot wait until the elections in November to search for employment. Many will need to find innovative ways to find jobs and continue the downward trend in unemployment.