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Study Addresses High Unemployment Among NV's Hispanic Population

PHOTO: A study from Brookings Mountain West at U-N-L-V addresses the state's high unemployment rate among Nevada's Hispanic population. Photo courtesy of Clark County, Nevada.
February 27. 2014
PHOTO: A study from Brookings Mountain West at U-N-L-V addresses the state's high unemployment rate among Nevada's Hispanic population. Photo courtesy of Clark County, Nevada.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Nevada should offer more educational opportunities and pursue economic diversification to combat the high unemployment rate among the state's Hispanic population. That's the conclusion of a study from Brookings Mountain West, a partnership between the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) and the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution.

UNLV professor John Tuman, chairman of the Political Science Department, said Hispanic unemployment surged from 6.5 percent to more than 18 percent during the Great Recession.

"We think most of this was due to the contraction of employment in construction, and most of that was in the residential construction sub-sector," Tuman said.

The study showed that Nevada's overall unemployment rate fell to just under 10 percent in 2012, but the jobless rate among Hispanics remained about 4 percent higher. Tuman noted that part of the challenge is that Hispanics have tended to be over-represented in the volatile residential construction sector, and also in the service industry.

He said Nevada can look to Texas and other states that have diversified their economies to help avoid massive job losses if a particular industry is devastated by a downturn. Tuman added that providing more educational opportunities would help people in that industry transition into other careers.

"Doing a better job of educating people or providing additional job training, so that people could take their skills and move into other sectors of the economy, would be tremendously helpful," he said.

Prior to the Great Recession, Nevada's Hispanic unemployment rate was in line with the state's overall jobless rate, he added.

The report, "The Impact of the Great Recession on Nevada’s Latino Community," is available at www.unlv.edu.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NV