Latinas Deserve More

During COVID-19, Latinas helped keep our country afloat. On the front lines of the pandemic, Latinas provided child care and education, worked in grocery stores, and served as home health aides to those who desperately needed care and support.

Many Latinas never stopped working. And yet, they were always paid less than what their essential work was worth.

December 8 is Latinas’ Equal Pay Day, when we recognize the wide gap in pay between Latinas and white, non-Hispanic men.

Latinas working full time, year round lose $2,477 every month or $29,724 every year to the wage gap… adding up to a staggering loss of $1 ,188,960 over a 40-year career.

That loss stems in large part from the fact that Latinas have long been overrepresented in low-paid jobs. COVID-19 has only further exacerbated these inequities: Many Latinas worked in essential roles that remained underpaid, while others faced reduced hours or unstable employment.

  • That’s why, earlier this year, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) polled Latinas across the country to understand how they’ve really been faring in the pandemic. Here’s what we found:
  • Nearly half of Latinas (47%) reported they were essential workers during COVID-19
  • Three in ten Latinas said their financial situation is worse than before the pandemic
  • More than two in five Latinas (41%) reported making $15 per hour or less, compared with 13% of white men
  • Among Latina mothers, half (50%) reported they reduced their hours, worked more nights/weekends, or stopped working altogether when their children were not in school or they did not have child care
  • Six in ten Latinas reported that the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health—and nearly half of Latinas cited bills and expenses as one of their top two sources of stress (49%), followed by their personal health (32%), and their family’s health (21%)
    Yes, the pandemic has made things worse for Latinas, but only by exacerbating the racial, ethnic, and gender inequities that have always been there—insidious and entrenched.

For decades, our country has failed Latinas by failing to invest in our economic and social infrastructures. And guess what? In our survey, those investments are exactly what Latinas want.

An overwhelming majority of Latinas (around 80% or more!) have expressed support for the following policies, and many others:

  • Provide all workers with paid family and medical leave
  • Require employers to provide at least two weeks’ notice of work schedules for workers in jobs with variable hours
  • Gradually raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour and ensure that tipped workers are entitled to the same minimum wage as anyone else, before tips
  • Ensure families can access high-quality, affordable child care and the full child tax credit, restoring the payments that gave families up to $300 per child monthly
  • Protect employees’ right to discuss salaries with colleagues, so employees can find out if they are being paid unfairly compared to their coworkers

Federal bills like the Paycheck Fairness Act , the Raise the Wage Act , and the Schedules That Work Act, along with funding to invest in child care and expand the child tax credit, would implement these commonsense solutions.

Furthermore, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would ensure that Latinas who are pregnant no longer have to choose between a paycheck and a healthy pregnancy if they need a reasonable, medically necessary accommodation to remain safe on the job. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has already passed the House and must be voted on in the Senate before the end of the year. We are calling on the Senate to pass this bill now.

Latinas have already lost too much to the wage gap. The annual loss of $29,724 could have paid for 10 months of child care, 7 months of rent payments, and 11 months of food costs. It could have been a lifeline for Latinas and their families during the pandemic.
And it could still change lives now, as our country faces an economic crisis where every penny, including those lost to the wage gap, counts.

Today and every day, Latinas deserve more.