By Eve Mefferd
The last Equal Pay Day of the year—October 21, 2021—marks the number of days into the new year that Latinas must work to earn what White men earned in 2020 (based on median annual earnings). Latinas’ median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work are $38,718, compared to $67,629 for White men. With a national wage gap of 42.7 percent, this means Latinas earn just 57 cents for every dollar made by White men, the largest difference of any major race and gender group. If progress continues at the same slow rate it has since 1985, Latinas won’t reach pay equity with White men until 2206—nearly two centuries from now. That’s simply too long to wait for economic equality. What can be done to improve pay equity for Latinas across the United States? Here are five steps we can take:
- Value care and service jobs—and prove it with living wages and benefits: Latinas are overrepresented in essential care and service sector jobs that tend to be women-dominated and pay much less than men-dominated occupations at similar levels of training and education. These low-quality, low-wage jobs are less likely to offer benefits like paid leave and health insurance.
- Improve access to high-paying sectors: In addition to improving conditions in traditionally women-dominated sectors, the wage gap can be narrowed by increasing access to opportunities in already high-paying, traditionally men-dominated sectors. In construction trades and advanced manufacturing, for example, individuals can earn six-figure salaries without the requirement of a college degree. Instead of taking on college debt, construction trades apprentices earn money while they train. For the Black, Latina, and Afro-Latina women who work in the trades, their careers are a pathway to economic security and prosperity. Unfortunately, they also face many barriers, including sexual harassment, discrimination in training and hours, and a lack of support like affordable childcare at the times they need it.
- Back unions: For Latinas, the wage advantage from union coverage is particularly high—they earn $263 (or 38.5 percent) more per week than those who are not covered by a union contract—and union women have better benefits. However, just 10.7 percent of Latina workers are represented by a union.
- Combat discrimination: About 4 in 10 Hispanic or Latina/o individuals report experiencing discrimination in the previous year. Other studies find that approximately a third of Hispanic or Latina/o individuals experience discrimination in job applications, promotions, housing, and police interactions. When it comes to discrimination in the job market, Latinas are dramatically under-represented in leadership and management roles. Latinas make up 7.7 percent of the workforce but hold only 4.4 percent of managerial positions and just 1.7 percent of chief executive positions.
- Support organizations doing the work: IWPR and its partners are committed to anti-racist research and advocacy. To make a difference this Latina Equal Pay Day, consider supporting the work of an organization advocating for the rights of the Hispanic and Latina community.
Join us and tune in to the Latina Equal Pay Day & Essential Women Worker Summit from Justice for Migrant Women, Equal Rights Advocates, and Parent Voices.
Información en españo sobre salario justo para Latinas: