The Hispanic unemployment rate reached a historic low of 5.2% in the second quarter of 2006, according to the Latino Labor Report 2006. The gap between the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rates for Latinos and non-Latinos was just 0.6 percentage points—the smallest since 1973, when employment data on Latinos first became available.
Wages for Latino workers also rose between the second quarters of 2005 and 2006, and at a faster rate than for other workers. Those developments reflect significant improvement in the labor market for Hispanic workers in 2005-06 and indicate that the jobs recovery from the recession in 2001 is nearing completion for Latinos. The improved economic performance coincided with continuing demographic growth for Hispanics, and their labor force and employment grew faster than for any other group.
The healthy job market for Hispanic workers has been driven by the construction industry. The industry added nearly a half a million jobs between the second quarters of 2005 and 2006, the majority of them filled by foreign-born Latinos. Since the jobs recovery began in 2003, nearly 1 million Latinos have found work in construction, accounting for about 40% of all new jobs gained by Hispanics. The construction sector, however, is showing signs of a slowdown, and that could impact Latino employment in the near future.