October 5th is Latina Equal Pay Day. In 2022, all Latinas with earnings (including full-time, year-round, part-time, and part-year workers) were paid only 51.9 cents per dollar compared to White, non-Hispanic men. Based on median earnings, this means a typical Latina made $20,110 less than a White man in 2022. When considering full-time year-round workers, Latinas only made 57.5 cents per dollar compared to White, non-Hispanic men. An average Latina working full-time year-round lost $24,170 in earnings in 2022 compared to White men.
If current trends persist, all Latinas with earnings won’t reach pay equity with White, non-Hispanic men until 2207 and until 2171 when considering Latinas working full-time year-round.
Latina’s pay inequity varies geographically, as there are vast differences in their earnings across states. For example, in 2021, all Latinas with earnings had the worst annual earnings ratio in California and New Jersey, earning only 39.5 cents per dollar. On the other hand, in Maine, the least bad state, that same median annual earnings ratio for Latinas compared to White non- Hispanic men was 65.3 cents per dollar. Latinas working full-time year-round earned the lowest earnings ratio in California, making only 43.8 cents per dollar compared to White, non-Hispanic men. Latinas working full-time year-round earned the highest earnings ratio in Maine, earning 72.0 cents per dollar.
Notes: Workers 15 years and older. White alone, not Hispanic; Latinas may be of any race. Vermont is N/A because sample size is insufficient for full-time year-round. Full-time is at least 35 hours per week; full-year is at least 50 weeks per year.
Source: IWPR analysis of 2017-2021 American Community Survey microdata (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Version 13.0)
Latinas are a unique demographic because they face structural barriers not only due to their race and ethnicity, but also due to their education and immigration status. These intersectional barriers perpetuate a cycle in which Latinas are overrepresented in low-paying service sectors jobs. In fact, IWPR’s research indicates that Latinas earn less than White, non-Hispanic men regardless of occupation. Undervalued service sectors jobs are less likely to provide a full-time position, as well as health and work benefits. Latinas who are represented by unions are much more likely to have access to such benefits.
Latinas have low levels of higher education when compared with women of other ethnicities. Latinas have a difficult time increasing their socioeconomic status through education because of the rising costs to attend college and barriers to financial aid. Additionally, immigration status is a highly pertinent reason behind the significant wage gap between Latina women and White, non-Hispanic men. Many Latinas in the workforce are employed under temporary work visas or are undocumented altogether. This lack of legalization forces many Latinas into low-paid jobs. Many Latinas were left without financial assistance during the pandemic because of their legal status, causing many to risk their health to provide for their families.
There is no doubt that policy-focused initiatives must take place in order to secure equality for Latinas. Similar to the intersectional barriers Latinas face, they also require intersectional solutions. Immigration reform and affordable access to higher education are two crucial policy solutions that could greatly contribute to equity for Latinas. Latinas are a jack of all trades when it comes to employment, therefore it’s crucial we strengthen equal pay laws and anti-discrimination laws. Latinas need equal pay now, not in 200 years.