News Release

New Poll: Low Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Translate to Good Quality Jobs, 76 Percent of Latinos Struggle to Make Ends Meet

41 percent of Latinos participate in the gig economy and nearly six in 10 of those say they work full-time

February 7, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—A public opinion poll released today by UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization (formerly National Council of La Raza), found that 76 percent of all Latinos say they struggle at least a little to pay their monthly bills.

In addition, 41 percent of respondents say they work in the gig economy, in which workers perform freelance or temporary jobs made available through app-based services such as Uber, Postmates and TaskRabbit. Of those working in the gig economy, nearly six in 10 report working full time.

“Unemployment is at historic lows, but even as Latinos take on extra work to help make ends meet, they still find themselves struggling. Many of those who do gig work are also financially vulnerable,” said Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Senior Vice President, Policy and Advocacy. “There’s something wrong with the picture when large numbers of people are having to work numerous gig jobs per month and still struggle to get by.”

The national, bilingual poll of 976 Latino adults ages 18-70 was conducted by Lake Research Partners from November 4 to December 4, 2019. While respondents say that one of their main motivators for joining the gig economy is flexibility, securing additional income is another leading factor. Among the top reasons respondents gave for entering the gig economy are supplementing income from a full-time job (23 percent), covering an unexpected expense (23 percent) and covering expenses until their next paycheck (22 percent).

Indeed, only 23 percent of respondents of the poll say they could cover a $400 unexpected expense without having to take on extra work or resort to credit cards, borrowing from friends or family, selling personal belongings or taking out loans.

“Month after month, jobs reports show low rates of unemployment among Latinos, but clearly the story is incomplete,” said Rodriguez. “We need practical solutions that help workers make ends meet without working 80-hour weeks or running the risk that the next emergency could become a family financial crisis. Policymakers paying attention to this important constituency would be wise to address this problem.”

Despite the high rates of labor force participation among Latinos, more than 10 million continue to make poverty-level wages.

“Our families remain resilient in the face of unjust systems, both historically and presently, through a strong work ethic and the ambition to overcome inequalities,” said Rosa Julia Garcia Rivera, COO of UnidosUS Affiliate Gads Hill Center in Chicago.
Additional key findings include:

  • 76 percent of gig workers said they’d worked a gig job in the past month.
  • 45 percent of respondents who have never done gig work have considered it.
  • 74 percent of gig workers worked more than one type of gig job in the past month.
  • 49 percent of gig workers say their gig work covers their expenses—with 42 percent reporting it does not.

To read more about the poll, click here.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Michael Krumholtz
(202) 776-1767