Making the American Dream of Homeownership Work for Hispanics and all Americans

While the economy has improved overall in recent years, it's only too clear that the overall recovery is still leaving many behind. Latinos in particular continue to struggle.


Take the example of homeownership. For Hispanics, homeownership rates are among the disappointing indicators. According to the Census Bureau, just 47 percent of Hispanics owned homes in the last quarter of 2016 – against a national rate above 60 percent.

Why is our community lagging behind? One critical reason is that our community faces higher unemployment than others–and without jobs, the dream of homeownership remains out of reach.

The December jobs report shows that Hispanic unemployment is back up to 5.9 percent, and Hispanic millennial unemployment has risen above 7.2 percent. Additionally, a report by The LIBRE Institute shows that Latinos have increasingly fallen into involuntary part-time work since the Great Recession. We're also enduring greater periods of long-term unemployment. Before the recession our community faced a gap with white non-Latinos in these areas, and in recent years we've actually fallen further behind.

What's to blame? There are many factors, but one of the most harmful ones is government labor regulation that raises the cost of doing business and worsens wage stagnation. When government creates new rules or requirements setting the conditions under which people are allowed to work, some people inevitably lose. For the Latino community, these regulations are making jobs less available and less rewarding.

For example, it's been widely reported by hundreds of companies that Obamacare's employee mandate is forcing small businesses to make painful decisions. Providing health insurance is expensive – particularly for America's millions of small businesses - and when it becomes more expensive to hire someone, employers have to reevaluate their priorities. Whether this is through reducing hours, limiting the number of seasonal employees, or letting people go, these painful decisions help explain why many Latinos are having trouble finding the work they need.

Yet the federal government still imposes these damaging regulations regularly. One recent examples is President Obama's federal overtime rule, which requires businesses to give overtime pay to workers of certain incomes who log more than 40 hours per week. When government hands down mandates like this, some workers win. However, too many others find their hours cut, or their wages reduced, or even wind up out of a job – all due to this one-size-fits-all government mandate.

With that comes less flexibility for workers and their employers, who have to alter their business practices to accommodate the new rules. Even workers at charities and churches are struggling with this new mandate. Rules such as these inevitably come with a costly compliance burden, wasting precious resources that could have been spent on creating new opportunities for employees.

Other regulations that have been advertised as helpful to the Hispanic community also had unadvertised consequences. Rules such as Dodd-Frank have led to tighter credit, hurting small businesses and stunting growth. And Operation Chokepoint – while arguably well intentioned – wound up stifling enterprises in minority communities. And while we were assured that more spending, higher debts, and low interest rates would encourage growth, that simply hasn't happened.

In order for Latinos – and everyone else in America – to get ahead, we need an economy in which freedom flourishes and opportunity abounds. We'll never get that from federal mandates that push jobs out of reach and make it harder to achieve the American Dream – including the dream of homeownership.

The Latino Economy

Attacks on Small Business Hurt Latinos Most