The most recent nonfarm payroll data shows that while the unemployment rate in the United States increased in May, it decreased for Hispanic employees.
Last month, the total jobless rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 3.7%. The U.S. Department of Labor said on Friday that the jobless rate for Hispanic or Latina women dropped to 3.4% last month from 4.1% in April, a decrease of 0.7 percentage points. Men of Hispanic descent now experience 4% unemployment, down from 4.1% in April. Overall, the jobless rate for Latinos fell from 4.4% in April to 4% in May.
The total drop in the Hispanic unemployment rate has been described as “a historic low” by Carmen Sanchez Cumming, a research associate at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. It only reached this level twice before, in November 2022 and September of 2019. At least through the first half of 2023, this recovery has been notably robust for Black and Hispanic employees both.
In the meantime, the total rate of unemployment for Black employees increased 0.9 percentage points from 4.7% in April to 5.6% in May. In May, the rate among Black men increased to 5.6% from 4.5% in April. In May, the unemployment rate for Black women increased slightly from April’s rate of 4.4% to 5.3%.
Hispanic and Black employees’ results are far more vulnerable to changes in the business cycle, according to economic studies and empirical evidence, said Cumming. Therefore, Black and Latino employees profit disproportionately when the job market is robust, but they also suffer disproportionately when the labor market is poor.
Longer-term patterns versus monthly volatility
The payroll survey of employers and the household survey are the two surveys that make up the monthly jobs report. When examining smaller demographic groupings in the home survey, there is significant monthly volatility that comes into play, Cumming said.
According to a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute Elise Gould, such volatility is the key finding in the May jobs data.
When considering something like that, Gould said, “There can be a lot of movement every month, so it’s important to pay attention to the longer-term trend.”
She said, “The longer-term trend suggests that the Black unemployment rate has been declining.” Therefore, it is roughly where it was three months ago. In fact, it decreased last month. It increased, but I anticipate that it will probably decline once more in the next month.
In May, the entire population’s labor force participation rate remained at 62.6%. This indicator calculates the proportion of persons who are either employed or actively looking for work. The labor force participation rate for Black males increased slightly to 68.2% from 67.8% in April. The rate remained the same for Black females at 63.9%.
The rate of Hispanic men who were in the labor force increased from 78.9% in April to 79.5% in May. For Hispanic women, the rate remained constant at 61.2%.