After COVID: Many Latinos Still Stuck in Inflexible Jobs


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When COVID-19 hit, it hurt many Latinos who worked in industries and jobs with few benefits and no flexibilities to respond to childcare disruptions.  

Unfortunately, after the pandemic, that situation remains. 

The industry and occupational distribution of Latino parents with low incomes remains largely unchanged from pre- to post-pandemic for mothers and fathers, according to a recent study from the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. 

“We provide the first national portrait of the industries and occupations that employ Latino parents with low incomes in the aftermath of the pandemic, and highlight employment shifts that occurred during the pandemic,” according to the study.  

Let’s dive into the study finding and how it impacts Latino parents.  

How Do Inflexible Jobs Impact People?  

Not all jobs have the same benefits, schedule flexibility, sick leave, or paid time off. 

Without these benefits, parents have a harder time finding childcare, responding to childcare and school disruptions, and meeting their family needs. 


Parents who have little flexibility to control their own work schedules face more difficulty arranging formal childcare, including childcare options that are open very early in the morning, after 5 p.m., or on weekends. 

“According to some estimates, only 8 percent of center-based child care providers and about one third (34%) of home-based providers offer child care that is open during nontraditional hours,” the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families study states.  

In turn, workers with varying hours may rely on various types of childcare arrangements to meet their needs.  

In addition, parents who lack employer-provided benefits or flexibilities may be less able to cope with childcare or school disruptions. They may have to miss or leave work early, cut their hours, use unpaid leave, and lose pay – which can impact their and their family’s health.  

“Latino parents’ abilities to meet their family and child care needs may be particularly vulnerable to a lack of employer-provided benefits and flexibilities,” according to the study.  

How Are Latinos Impacted by Inflexible Jobs?   

Latinos, particularly Latina women, already face a colossal wage gap. 

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families study used several national datasets to explore employment patterns among low-income Latino parents and workplace flexibilities adopted (or not) by their employers. 

They found that, compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, Latino mothers and fathers with low incomes remain disproportionately concentrated in inflexible industries and occupations. 

These occupations include: 

  • Construction (34%) 
  • Manufacturing (9.5%) 
  • Administrative and support and waste management (10%) 
  • Accommodation and food services (9%) 
  • Transportation and warehousing (7%) 
  • Retail trade (6%) 
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (4.5%) 
  • Other services (8%) 

Post-pandemic, nearly 90% of Latino fathers with low incomes worked in one of eight industries, with nearly a third in the construction industry alone.  

Similarly, more than half of Latina mothers with low incomes worked in  

  • Health care and social assistance (19%) 
  • Accommodation and food services (15%) 
  • Retail trade (13%) 
  • Administrative and support and waste management (10%) 
  • Other services (8%) 
  • Manufacturing (7%) 
  • Transportation and warehousing (6%) 
  • Educational services (5%) 

“In a notable shift, the percentage of Latina mothers working in the warehousing and transportation industry nearly tripled from 2019 to 2022, from 2 to nearly 6 percent, “according to the study.  

To add to the issues, the study found that the industries that employ many Latino parents with low incomes were among the least likely to initiate or expand benefits and flexibilities in response to the pandemic.  

These benefits and flexibilities include sick leave, paid time off, work schedule flexibility, and telework.  

Less than 6% of businesses across the industries that employ roughly half of Latino fathers with low incomes and about 30% of Latina mothers with low incomes started or extended their provisions for paid leave for dependent care due to the pandemic. 

66% of low-income Latino father 38% of Latina mothers with low incomes work in industries in which the percentage of businesses that started or increased sick leave during the pandemic was lower than the national average. 

“And because child care disruptions have become more frequent … the concentration of Latino parents with low incomes in industries and occupations that offer limited flexibility to respond to interruptions will continue to negatively affect their economic and family well-being,” according to the study. 

Suggestions Moving Forward  

The pandemic did influence some businesses and industries to offer increased benefits and work schedule flexibilities. 

But, in general, Latino parents with low incomes work in industries and occupations with limited employer-provided benefits, usually work nonstandard hours, have little control over their schedules, experience schedule instability, and are unable to work remotely.  

“Our findings suggest the need for federal-, state-, and employer-level interventions that address the lack of employment benefits and flexibilities that support child care needs and demands,” according to the study. 

With the lack of work flexibilities causing challenges for Latino parents’ ability to respond to childcare disruptions, programs and additional help are needed. 

Both paid sick leave and family leave remain important policies.  

“Our findings also have important implications for social services programs designed to support the child care needs of working parents with low incomes, including the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which provides subsidies to states, territories, and tribes to administer child care programs for workers with low incomes,” according to the study. 

Advocate for Health Equity in Your Community 

As more research and policy work continues in income equity, you can learn more about the health of your community today!  

Select your county and get a Health Equity Report Card by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. In your report card, you will see maps, data, and gauges to compare health equity issues, including socioeconomic status, to the rest of your state and nation.  

You can email your Health Equity Report Card to local leaders to stimulate community change. Use the data in your materials or share on social media to raise awareness.  


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