Opinion: What Does Obama's Jobs Plan Mean For Latinos?

After months of frustration and political disenchantment the debt crisis and record low presidential approvals ratings, President Obama’s job's plan might represent a little sunshine to a gloomy outlook of unemployment and political nonsense.

Could this be the plan that finally restores the confidence of the middle-class family, the single mom, the unemployed, 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. According to some experts the plan may not be enough to boost the economy, but could it at least boost the economy of your household and mine?

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.”

Using a Latino filter to evaluate the relevancy and impact of his proposed priorities sheds some light on interesting aspects of the potential impact for the fast-growing Hispanic community.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Latino workers account for 25 percent of the total employment in the construction sector. On the flip side and due to a declining economy, the unemployment rate of Hispanic construction workers is a lot worse than that of non-Hispanics, with a rate of 7.3 percent compared to 5 percent for the latter, according to Morgan Stanley's Global Economic Forum in February 2008. More than half of the 456,000 jobs that Hispanics lost during the year were construction jobs.

As President Obama described a focus on funding large projects to build infrastructure and renovate schools, this presents an opportunity for the millions of Latinos that might have been impacted in this sector. Obama has suggested that the initiatives could lead to the hiring of one million unemployed construction workers of which at least, based on the trend, 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, promising to cut payroll taxes in half and incentivize hiring of the unemployed. Hispanic-owned businesses outpace growth of non-minority-owned firm.

Their growth rate was almost three times the national level (30 percent) between 2000 to 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 29 for whites. Also, new jobs for young people benefit 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.

Finally one of his promises is as simple and as practical as it gets — putting money back into people’s pockets. His 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.

So, now we wait for Congress in anticipation.

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 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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