reported that U.S. employers added 257,000 jobs in January 2015, another month of strong job growth. The national unemployment rate is 5.7% and the Latino unemployment rate is 6.7%. Construction added 39,000 jobs last month, following an average of 28,000 jobs gained per month. Job growth in construction is good for Latinos, who represent one in four workers in the industry; however, trends in fatal workplace injuries for Latinos in construction are cause for concern.
This report looks ahead to the looming fiscal debate in the face of new evidence that the number of Latinos killed from injuries on the job is increasing. Job growth in construction is good for Latinos, who represent one in four workers in the industry; however, trends in fatal workplace injuries for Latinos in construction are cause for concern.
Latinos represent 25.5% of construction workers, compared to only 15.6% of the overall workforce. The housing market crash took an acute toll on Latino employment and household income that is only now showing signs of improvement. Yet new data show that employment growth in construction is coming at a cost to Latino workers.
In general, Latino workers are more likely to be killed on the job than non-Latino workers. Latinos represent 15.6% of the employed workforce but 18% of workers who died on the job in 2013.
While workplace fatalities were lower for non-Hispanic Whites and non-Hispanic Blacks in 2013 compared to 2012, the number of Hispanic workers killed increased by 7%, from 748 fatalities in 2012 to 797 in 2013. In addition, new evidence suggesting that the overall improvement in construction safety is not translating into lower fatalities among Latinos is cause for concern.
National Council La Raza’s previous analysis of workplace health and safety outcomes for Latino workers finds that Latinos are more likely to work in low-wage occupations where labor laws are frequently violated.
Inadequate enforcement keeps workers—including immigrants, who represent the majority of Latinos killed on the job—vulnerable to exploitation.
In the construction industry, for instance, Latinos make up more than 40% of construction laborers, an occupation with a fatality rate of 17.7 per 100,000 workers. Construction laborers are often subject to other violations of workplace rights, including wage theft and misclassification as independent contractors.