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Lili Gil


President Obama's Job Speech: What it Means for Latinos

Posted: 09/ 9/2011 1:23 pm

After months of frustration and political disenchantment and record low presidential approvals ratings, Obama's job speech might represent a little ray sunshine to a gloomy outlook of political non-sense.

Could this be the plan that finally restores the confidence of the middle-class family, the single mom, the unemployed professional, or the Latino worker? Could this help our country's unprecedented crisis?

The forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates a tax cut extension might create about 33,000 jobs each month next year -- insufficient to reduce unemployment. However, while for some experts the plan may not be enough to boost the country's economy, could it mean something to boost the economy of your household?

Obama described it in plain English "the purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business."

Some of the priority areas mentioned present key points of relevancy for the 50 million Latinos in the U.S.

Let's start with the construction workers. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanic workers account for 25 percent of the total employment in the construction sector. On the flip side and due to a declining economy, unemployment rate of Hispanic construction workers is a lot worse than that of non-Hispanics, with a rate of 7.3% compared to 5% for the latter, according to the Morgan Stanley's Global Economic Forum. A focus on funding large projects to build infrastructure and renovate schools, certainly presents an opportunity for millions of Latinos that might have been impacted in this sector. Obama suggests that the initiatives could lead to the hiring of one million unemployed construction workers of which at least 25 percent could be Hispanic.

Another part of the plan benefits small businesses "making life easier for job creators... starting tomorrow small businesses will get a tax cut", Obama stated. This puts on the table a promise to cut payroll taxes in half and incentivize hiring of the unemployed. So, what is the Latino impact? Hispanic-owned businesses outpace growth of non-minority-owned firm. Their growth rate was almost 3 times the national level (30 percent) between 2000- 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, employment at these firms also grew by 26 percent from 1.5 million to 1.9 million workers, significantly higher than that of non-minority-owned firms, therefore representing a healthy pool of beneficiaries of the proposed tax breaks.
Obama mentioned that "disadvantaged young people will get jobs", which could make a big difference to the Latino community who is a younger population with an average age of 27 compared to 39 for whites. Also, new jobs for young people and the small business incentives present a benefit for recent college graduates. According to the Pew Hispanic Research, in just one year the number of Hispanics ages 18 to 24 on America college campuses grew by nearly a quarter, while the number of white students that age declined, highlighting a substantial and increasingly rapid demographic transition in higher education. Overall, college-age Hispanics represented 1.8 million, or 15 percent, of the 12.2 million young adults in college. Ironically, while positive, the current economic circumstances negatively impact these young people.

Finally Obama's job plan also promises that "the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year", which is extra cash I am sure many families could use for debt, education or other expenses. Regardless of background or race, ultimately this is what we all want as Americans...a little extra cash in our pockets at times of trouble for the nation and many families alike.

What now? Let's wait for Congress in anticipation. What can you do? Write or call your congressman and make your voice be heard.

Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert, media/ TV contributor and host of the online show Moments2CulturRise. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a cross-channel marketing strategy organization dedicated to helping business executives maximize their efforts into profitable growth. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact. You can follow Lili on twitter @liligil


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