PolitiFact FL: Under Biden, Hispanic unemployment rate falls by almost half
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign launched a series of ads targeting Latinos and Hispanics.
"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.
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.
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.
- Federal Reserve Bank Of St. Louis, Unemployment Rate - Hispanic or Latino, accessed Sept. 19, 2023
- Joe Biden on YouTube, It’s Us | Biden-Harris 2024, Aug. 24, 202
- Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Unemployment Rate - Hispanic or Latino, accessed Sept. 21, 2023
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, 2019, accessed Sept. 21, 2023
- ABC News, US poverty rate jumped in 2022, child poverty more than doubled: Census, Sept. 13, 2023
- Phone interview with Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Research Center, Sept. 18, 2023
- Phone interview with Victor Narro, Project Director at UCLA Labor Center, , Sept. 18, 2023
- Email interview with Maca Casado, spokesperson and Hispanic Media Director of Biden for President, Sept. 18, 2023
- U.S. Census Bureau, Distribution of Total Population and Poverty by Race Using the Social Poverty Measure: 2022, accessed Sept. 18, 2023
- X, post by the Council of Economic Advisers, Sept. 19, 2023
- Pew Research Center, Latinos have experienced widespread financial challenges during the pandemic, Jul. 15, 2021