Hartford has 2nd highest Hispanic unemployment rate in the country

A Washington, D.C.-based economic think tank released a report Monday saying the Hartford metropolitan area has the second highest rate of Hispanic unemployment in the country, behind Providence, R.I.

The non-partisan Economic Policy Institute reported Hartford’s Hispanic unemployment rate at 23.5 percent in 2010, topped only by Providence at 25.2 percent. The rest of the top ten metropolitan areas are located in California, Florida and Nevada, while the national rate of Hispanic unemployment sat at 12.5 percent in 2010.

The Hartford metropolitan area, which also includes East and West Hartford, also saw the highest rate of increase in Hispanic unemployment in the country, jumping 7.5 percent from 15.9 percent in 2009 to 23.5 percent in 2010. The Providence area saw an increase of 4.6 percent over the same period and the remainder of the top 20 towns saw improvements or increases in unemployment under 3 percent.

The Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk metropolitan area, 19th on the list, saw some improvement. Hispanic unemployment decreased 4.1 percent, from 15.6 percent in 2009 to 11.5 percent in 2010.

EPI also said the Hartford area leads the country with the highest ratio of Hispanic-to-white unemployment. Hartford Latinos are 3.4 times as likely as whites to be unemployed.

Factors driving high unemployment rates in Connecticut may differ from what drives high unemployment in other parts of the country, according to the report. Construction drives Hispanic employment rates nationally, but manufacturing proves more important for metropolitan areas in the northeast. EPI said that before the 2007 recession, Hartford and Providence Latinos were less than half as likely to work in construction as Latinos in other parts of the country.