Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has a very clear message for Latinos in the workforce: “Si se puede” or “Yes we can.”
Solis, who took part in the LatinoWire Experts series webinar sponsored by Business Wire to discuss the landscape of the Latino workforce, said Latinos are making great strides in today’s economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Latino youth, ages 16 to 24, alone, has increased 3.6 percentage points in the past year.
“Latinos are now the fastest growing segment of the American workforce,” said Solis. They are an “essential part of the nation’s future,” she added.
The 2008 recession took a heavy toll on the Latino community but the unemployment rate which once stood at 13.1 percent for Latinos has since dropped 2.6 percentage points in the last two years. This is the fastest rebound the Latino community has ever seen, says Solis.
Solis says data reveals Latinos are going back to work in high paying industries with professions in business services, education, healthcare, transportation and utilities.
“There is no silver bullet to fixing our economy,” Solis said.
Solis explained the only way to get the ball rolling on the economy is to invest on educating the masses in order to make better professionals. She pointed to Obama administration’s breakthroughs with the Affordable Healthcare Act and the Deferred Action plan, allowing DREAMers the opportunity to delay deportation and work legally, which will also allow a population that for long-lived under wraps to join the labor force.
With the Affordable Care Act, as many as 9 million Latinos will gain access to health care insurance coverage, and these investments will yield real gains.
“That, to me, is real progress and it’s an inspiration for us to keep going but we still have a lot more work to do,” she said.
The creation of programs like the Community College to Career Fund, the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College Career Training Initiative, the Workforce Investment Act, YouthBuild and Job Corps all provide career training and aid with job placement, among other things for a lot of Latinos.
“Our nation will only be as strong as our growing Latino community, which is why it’s critical to keep building the ladder of opportunity and success for Latinos,” Solis said.
The LatinoWire Experts series webinar was just one of the many events Solis and the Department of Labor sponsored in honor of Labor Day and Labor Rights Week, which kicked off August 27 and ends today.
Labor Day has historically always fallen on the first Monday in September since it became a national holiday in 1894. For Solis says everyday is labor day.
“The great American worker is what makes America great, felicidades,” she said.