Hispanic Workers Suffer As Residential Construction Declines

Washington, D.C.–As construction jobs disappear, Hispanics–who comprised the majority of the building work force during housing’s growth years–are struggling, according to a new study by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center.In the first quarter of 2008, Hispanics’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 6.5 percent; the unemployment rate for non-Hispanics was 4.7 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal.The construction decline cost Hispanics jobs in the past year. Weekly earnings dropped from $512 a week in 2006 to $480 a week in the first quarter of this year.The housing slump didn’t affect Hispanics at first–even as the decline began, they were able to obtain 300,000 more new construction jobs in the first quarter of last year. But the new data suggest that the housing decline has reached workers.Roughly 26 percent of the seven million U.S. construction workers are Hispanic, according to the Labor Department; but industry analysts feel the actual amount may be much higher because many immigrants are not officially documented workers.