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PolitiFact FL: Under Biden, Hispanic unemployment rate falls by almost half

President Joe Biden waves after he spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 46th annual awards gala, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Washington.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
President Joe Biden waves after he spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 46th annual awards gala, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Washington.

Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that Hispanic or Latino unemployment was 9.3% in December 2020, President Donald Trump’s last full month in office. That rate fell from 8.5% in January 2021, the month Joe Biden was sworn in, to 4.9% in August 2023.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign launched a series of ads targeting Latinos and Hispanics.

In one spot, titled "It’s Us" ("Nosotros" in its Spanish version) a narrator says Biden has helped the Latino community by lowering its unemployment rate.

"Since he has taken office, unemployment in our community has been cut in half," the narrator says in the ad, which the campaign says is part of a 16-week, $25 million advertising push. Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15.

PolitiFact looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ "Hispanic or Latino" monthly unemployment rate figures and found that they fell from 8.5% in January 2021, the month Biden took office, to 4.9% in August 2023, the last month with available data. In December 2020, former President Donald Trump’s last full month in office, the rate was 9.3%.

By that monthly measure, the Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate has fallen close to half, but not fully half, since Biden took office.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics or Latinos has fallen by almost half since Joe Biden became president

Unemployment in this community spiked at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, following national trends. The current Latino or Hispanic unemployment rate is similar to what it was in 2019 before the pandemic.

Although presidents can influence economic policies, the factors that contribute to unemployment are complex. The effects of pandemics such as COVID-19 carry more weight than whoever is in the White House.

READ MORE: White House to allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans to work legally in US

The Biden campaign told PolitiFact that it calculated the unemployment rate, comparing the three-month average before Biden took office, with the most recent three-month average. This would mean comparing the 8.9% average of October 2020 to December 2020, with the 4.5% average of June 2023 to August 2023.

That’s just shy of half.

What unemployment rate represents

The unemployment rate captures the number of people who are currently employed or actively looking for work. Although economists and the public track this statistic widely, no single data point can capture labor force trends perfectly.

"Unemployment federal data can be misleading because it doesn’t factor in people who stop looking for jobs," said Victor Narro, expert on immigrant rights and low-wage workers at UCLA.

Mark Hugo Lopez, race and ethnicity research director at the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank, said the U.S. Latino population was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unemployment rates among people who identify as Hispanics or Latinos had been consistently low recently, but that changed when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted service industry shutdowns and slowed construction. About 24% of Latinos or Hispanics were employed in hospitality in 2019, before the pandemic hit; 16.4% were in natural resources, construction and maintenance.

Our ruling

A Biden campaign ad said that "since he has taken office, unemployment in our (Latino) community has been cut in half."

Calculated conventionally, using monthly data, the decline was close to half, but not quite half. Using the three-month average before Biden took office to the most recent three-month average, as the Biden campaign did, the decline was also close to half.

The current Hispanic or Latino unemployment rate is similar to what it was under Trump before the pandemic.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

PolitiFact Senior Correspondent Louis Jacobson contributed to this report.

Our Sources

WLRN has partnered with PolitiFact to fact-check Florida politicians. The Pulitzer Prize-winning team seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.

Copyright 2023 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Marta Campabadal Graus