The State of Latina Workers


Latinas in workspace.
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Latina workers are playing a growing role in the U.S. economy, but continue to face barriers to economic security, according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).

“Hispanic women represent a critical and growing segment of the U.S. labor market and economy. The increasing labor market participation of Latinas is helping support the ongoing economic recovery and the resilience of the American workforce,” according to the study.

Let’s explore the increasing labor market participation of Latinas and what it means for the future.

How Many Latinas Are in the Labor Market?

Latinos overall represent 18.9% of the U.S. population.

Latinas account for 16% of the female labor force, the second-largest racial/ethnic group of women workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That percentage is expected to rise, too.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Hispanic Americans will account for 78% of new workers between 2020 and 2030.

The JEC report further states that Latinas have narrowed the gap between them and their white counterparts when it comes to workforce participation.

“This means that a growing share of Hispanic women are either working or actively looking for work,” according to the JEC report.

How Did COVID-19 Impact the Latina Workforce?

COVID-19 greatly impacted the Latino population.

Latino men and women represented a large proportion of “essential” pandemic workers, according to a previous report from the Joint Economic Committee.

“The Department of Homeland Security took steps to label some workers ‘essential,’ excluding them from local and state stay-at-home orders. Hispanic Americans have been widely overrepresented among this group of essential and frontline workers,” according to the Joint Economic Committee report.

Many Latinas in the workforce faced financial and employment hardships throughout the pandemic.

They experienced a disproportionate share of the job losses, too.

“By April of 2020, 1 in 5 Hispanic women of working-age were out of a job and actively looking for one,” according to the JEC report.

But as the pandemic has lessened, Latinas are increasingly entering the workforce.

Why Is the Latina Workforce Rising?

By September 2022, the unemployment rate for Latinas was 3.6%, below the pre-pandemic rate of 4.4% at the start of 2020, the JEC report states.

Young Latina working

Further, data from the reports shows that the share of Hispanic women of working-age that are currently employed (58.5%) is identical to that at the start of 2020 (58.5%).

“For Latinas, the impulse to go to school and work, as with many immigrant groups, often comes from watching their parents sacrifice as their families struggled to find a foothold in the economy,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The report also credits emergency relief, including the American Rescue Plan Act and the Raise Wage Act, in strengthening the economic position of Latinas and their contributions.

“With this bold return and labor market engagement, Latinas are helping usher in a resilient economic recovery from the shock of the pandemic,” according to the report.

What Economic Disparities Do Latinas Still Face?

Despite the impact and contributions of Latinas in the U.S. economy, they still face a number of workforce obstacles.

Latinas have made large strides is attaining education; however, a wage gap persists.

For every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic white man, a Latina earns just 57 cents, the U.S. Department of Labor blog reports.

“Among those with a bachelor’s degree, Hispanic women only make 64.6% of what white, non-Hispanic men make. In fact, Hispanic women with bachelor’s degrees have median weekly earnings less than those of white men with some college or an associate degree,” the report states.

Latinas are also overrepresented in low-wage occupations.

Not only does this overrepresentation threaten Latinas’ economic security, it also leads to poor working conditions.

Another blog from the U.S. Department of Labor highlights that these factors keep Latinas at a chronic state of working poverty.

“If we are to break the cycle for this generation of Latinas, as well as those to come, we must implement strategies that hardwire equity for women, particularly women of color and new Americans,” according to the blog.

With many Latinas in low-wage occupations, workers in industries like leisure and hospitality are more vulnerable to losing their jobs and poor working conditions.

“This employment vulnerability can also translate into broader economic insecurity for low-wage workers as they may take longer to recover during times of economic expansion,” the JEC report states.

The JEC report mentions other disparities Latinas could face due to vulnerable positions include:

“If we are to break the cycle for this generation of Latinas, as well as those to come, we must implement strategies that hardwire equity for women, particularly women of color and new Americans,” according to the Labor blog.

How Can We Create Healthier Communities for Latinos?

Latinas and Latinos deserve health equity, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be their healthiest.

You can help!

Explore how your county is doing on a variety of health-equity-related conditions compared to the rest of your state and nation through the Salud America! Health Equity Report Card.

The report card includes data that will show how your area stacks up in categories such as poverty, healthcare, and access to healthy food and transportation.

Use the Report Card as a tool to and share your results with your friends, family, colleagues to stimulate a healthy system or policy change!


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