Even as rightwing pundits like Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly paint the Latino community as over-reliant on government, a new study highlights that Hispanics often do not receive enough of the benefits they are entitled to.
Latinos are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to apply for unemployment insurance benefits or to receive them once they apply, according to the study published in the Monthly Labor Review and publicized in a briefing by the National Employment Law Project.
Based on the 2005 supplement of the Current Population Survey of 60,000 households, the study by Alix Gould-Werth and Luke Shaefer of the University of Michigan found that only 34 percent of Latinos applied for unemployment benefits, compared to 49.5 percent of non-hispanic whites. Of those who applied, 56.8 percent of Hispanic applicants received benefits, versus 70.9 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Latinos were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to say they didn’t know they were eligible for benefits or that they didn’t know how to apply. Some 5.1 percent of Hispanic immigrants cited language as a barrier to apply for unemployment benefits -- a nearly non-existent problem for non-Hispanic whites and Hispanic citizens, according to the study.
Federal law permits immigrants with lawful residency to apply for unemployment benefits.
To address the problem, the National Employment Law Project calls on the federal government to boost outreach to the Latino community to make eligible workers aware of state unemployment insurance. NELP also criticized states like Florida that have increased the red tape associated with applying for unemployment benefits.
New rules implemented in Florida require those seeking unemployment benefits to fill out a 45-question skills test and file for benefits by computer rather than telephone, according to the Orlando Sun Sentinel. The U.S. Department of Labor is reviewing the changes to assess whether they are legal.
“They should be spending their limited resources on making sure that those who are eligible for benefits are receiving them,” Claire McKenna, a policy analyst with NELP, told The Huffington Post.
Only 17 percent of Florida’s unemployed received state unemployment benefits in 2011, compared to 27 percent nationally, according to NELP.