Why Everyone Should Worry About the Latina Pay Gap
With Latinos expected to become 1 in 4 Americans by 2050 and achieving combined purchasing power of $2.5 trillion in 2024, lagging Latina incomes are absolutely bad for the U.S. economy
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The average Latina woman would have to work 70 years to earn what the average White man earns over a typical 35-year career. That’s two professional lifetimes. Let that sink in. So, when Latinas are simultaneously among the largest group of women workers and the lowest paid (after Native women), our economy is broken.
The annual observance of Latina Equal Pay Day (which fell on December 8th last week) represents the unfair reality that Latinas are required to work for an additional 11 months to get paid what their Non-Hispanic White male coworkers made in 2021. Every Latina Equal Pay Day, we are reminded of this unfair stat: Latinas make nearly half of every dollar White men make: this year on average 54 cents. If progress continues at the same rate, it will take almost two centuries for Latinas to reach equal pay with White men. With the pandemic and rising inequities, the stark reality has gone from bad to worse – with the wage gap increasing even further for Latinas. As we continue to feel the effects of COVID-19, we recognize that the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on wages and employment for all women of color, but most drastically for Latinas.
Why Are Latinas Trapped in a Cycle of Inequitable & Unequal Pay?
Not enough comprehensive data. Wage data fails to account for the more than 5.5 million women workers—1 million of which were Latinas—that were forced out of the labor market due to the pandemic. It also does not count Latinas who are working part-time, as gig workers, or whose income is not being reported to the federal government—predominantly undocumented Latinas.
Latinas are overrepresented in low-wage and low-quality jobs—jobs without benefits, paid leave, or childcare—and underrepresented in higher paying quality jobs. In 2018, Latinas accounted for 7.7 percent of the workforce, but 16 percent of low wage jobs. The wage disparity for Latinas plays throughout the life cycle of their careers and holds true in lower and higher wage jobs. In fact, according to a Lean In report using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latinas with bachelor’s degrees faced an even greater gap at 31% that than those without a high school diploma at 21%.
This Wrecks the Overall Economy
This pay inequity adds up to a loss of $26,000 per year, which could pay for months of rent or mortgage, college, health and childcare costs, and basic needs like groceries. In total, Latinas lose over to $1.2 million over a 40-year career which has far-reaching impact on the overall economy. In New York City alone, an additional $11.8 billion more in earnings could be added to the local economy if the Latina wage gap were closed.
This is a tax on our economy none of us can afford, especially as Latinos are predicted to become one in four Americans by 2050. Despite continued economic marginalization, Latinos represent fast-growing purchasing power — expected to reach $2.5 trillion by 2024, with the total economic output of Latinos reaching $2.8 trillion in 2020. They already demonstrate outsized consumer spending for their income. Moreover, research has shown that Latinas drive spending in the home. Meaning that equal pay for Latinas not only benefits our community, but it has the potential to infuse more money into our national economy.
Through its racial and ethnic economic justice work, Prosperity Now calls attention to and combats disparities that Latinas and other historically marginalized groups face by …
Supporting entrepreneurship development organizations as multipliers for building family and community wealth
Exploring how entrepreneurs of color might generate more quality jobs for communities of color, jobs that generate fair wages, offer health insurance and paid leave
Developing and advocating for policies and programs that work to promote economic stability and build long-term wealth, change narratives around deservedness, and fight bias
Promoting intergenerational approaches to addressing economic disparities
Not only does the wage gap mean that Latinas struggle to cover current expenses, but we also miss building wealth and long-term economic security for ourselves and our families. We can fight back against unequal pay and economic inequities impacting Latinas and other women of color. Together and united, we can …
Use our voice and platform to fight stereotypes and combat gender bias in the workplace
Use data to call our disparities and change narratives about who is qualified to fill jobs at all rungs of the professional ladder
Tell Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act that would encourage pay transparencies that fight wage gaps, protect workers from retaliation, and close loopholes for employers maintain pay inequities.
Advocate for policies that provide living wages, critical benefits like paid family and medical leave, and access to high-quality, affordable childcare.
Support initiatives that ensure families have the financial resources they need to cover essential costs through critical tax credits like the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit and guaranteed income programs.
The economy belongs to all of us, and it flourishes when everyone can participate fairly. We should honor the strength of Latina laborers and work in alliance with them to collectively pursue economic parity, progress, and prosperity for all.