Texas Elections 2018

Fact Check: Is Hispanic Unemployment at Historic Low?

In an appeal to Latino voters at Tuesday night’s debate, Senator Ted Cruz touted historic low Hispanic unemployment as a reason to keep Republicans like him in office.

“This is a choice about keeping the boom going… we have the lowest Hispanic unemployment ever recorded,” said Texas Senator Ted Cruz in closing remarks at Tuesday night’s senatorial debate against Congressman Beto O’Rourke in San Antonio. 

But is Hispanic unemployment really at historic lows? 

In Texas, not quite.

The most recent statewide data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show average unemployment of 4.7 percent among Hispanics in 2017. 

Only two previous years on record* experienced lower average unemployment, 4.6 percent in 2006 and 4.5 percent in 2007, according to BLS economist Cheryl Abbott. 

“They’re very close, but not quite the lowest,” said Abbott. 

However, nationwide statistics show Hispanic unemployment as indeed reaching historic lows in September and July of 2018 at 4.5 percent. Unemployment of the general population was 3.7 percent in the same month. 

Though unemployment is one factor to indicate well-being, economist Valerie Wilson, of the non-profit Economic Policy Institute, said there are other important measures of economic prosperity. 

“Beyond having a job, is the quality of that job, what wages do the jobs pay, what kinds of benefits are provided,” said Wilson. 

Studies show Hispanics earn less than whites with the same education and experience.

Wilson also said there are large gaps in wealth among racial and ethnic lines.

“The median Hispanic family has about $20,000 in net worth compared to about $171,000 for the median white family,” she said. 

Wilson added that when unemployment creeps up, families with less wealth are hardest hit because of that wealth disparity.

She also said that, in her opinion, actions by the Federal Reserve after the Great Recession, such as keeping interest rates low, have had more of an impact on unemployment than the actions of any president or senator. 

*BLS started reporting statewide Hispanic unemployment in 1999. Records of national unemployment started in 1973.