Behind the Numbers: Why Latina Equal Pay Day Is a Crucial Call to Action
It’s Latina Equal Pay Day in the United States. And while there have been inroads, Latinas still don’t receive a fair wage. Latinas in the U.S. are mostly confined to critical and undervalued employment and face institutional and cultural barriers to advancement.
The situation is worse for highly educated Latinas. They continue to earn below what their non-Hispanic white male counterparts earn. And some also perceive a lower salary than non-Hispanic white men with less education.
The U.S. National Equal Pay Day celebrated in March, marks how far into the year all women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
Latina Equal Pay Day, or the evidence of an abysmal disparity
In recent years, the Latino population has exploded in the U.S. In 2022, it reached 63.6 million, the nation’s second-largest racial or ethnic group. Moreover, Latina’s purchasing power is almost $2.8 trillion.
Of this number, 50.4% are women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Yet, even though Latinas play a central role in the U.S. economy and labor force (the second-largest group of U.S. female workers), on average, Latina women’ are paid’s salary is 46% less than white men’s and 31% less than white women’s.
Latinas are also paid less than their Asian women counterparts, no matter their experience, education, or where they live. Overall, Latinas earn 57 cents per dollar earned by a non-Hispanic white man.
Latinas who don’t have a high school diploma earned 62 cents per dollar; high school graduates earned 67 cents. Latinas with an associate’s degree or who attended college earned 66 cents per every dollar a white man earned with the same level of education.
But educated Latinas face the biggest challenge
In 2022, Latinas earned 59 cents per dollar paid to a non-Hispanic white man with the same education, as revealed by Census data.
According to the National Women’s Law Center, because of the pay gap, Latinas with a professional or bachelor’s degree will lose almost $2.5 million in earnings in their lifetime.
Latinas fight unique cultural and institutional bias, sexism, and racism. They are overrepresented in low-wage occupations and work twice as hard to gain economic opportunity. They do so while enduring economic insecurity and poor working conditions.
Discrimination and bias when hiring and deciding salaries are factors in the wage gap. According to the Center for American Progress, Latinas facing the most significant discrepancies in pay often hold jobs as maids, childcare workers, and cashiers, among other undervalued occupations.
Yet many other issues hinder Latinas from advancing and earning a fair wage
According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, if the annual wage gap were eliminated, a typical Latina working in the United States would have enough money to pay for approximately 38 months of food; nearly 33 more months of childcare; six semesters or three years of tuition and fees for a four year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two year college.
Lack of executive sponsorship, representation of Latinas in leadership roles, pay transparency, and training in negotiation tactics affect the gap.
There also needs to be a raise in the minimum wage, better maternity leave, and union-embracing policies. Not to mention scheduling policies for mothers. Taking career breaks for childcare and caretaking responsibilities has hindered higher pay for Latinas.
Closing the wage gap for Latinas will help their families and empower a growing Hispanic community. And it will better the nation’s economy as a whole.