To commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through October 15, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), and the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), led by Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), released a new report that examines the outsized contributions Latina workers make to the U.S. economy and highlights barriers to inclusive prosperity that undermine overall economic growth and stability.
Latinas make up the second-largest group of female workers in the U.S. labor market—after white women—and represent more than 17% of all women in the labor force. In 2021, the labor force participation rate of Hispanic women exceeded that of their white counterparts.
However, because Hispanic women remain overrepresented in industries that were hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and recession, Latinas experienced a disproportionate share of pandemic job losses. The unemployment rate for Hispanic women peaked at 20.1% in April of 2020—higher than that of men or women in any other racial or ethnic group. Latinas also remain overrepresented in low-wage occupations and are more affected by the gender wage gap than any other major racial or ethnic group in the U.S. labor market: The typical Hispanic woman earns only 54 cents for every dollar earned by the typical white man. This wage gap remains consistent regardless of education, leaving many Latinas economically insecure and subject to poor working conditions.
Legislation to promote inclusive growth, like the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, has helped Latina workers recover from the pandemic and will continue to create jobs and bring down costs for Hispanic Americans. However, more is needed from Congress to address the ongoing challenges facing Latina workers and the broader Hispanic American community.
With the release of the report, Chairman Beyer and Chair Dr. Ruiz issued the following statements:
“Latina workers are an integral part of this nation’s economic heart and soul and make up nearly one fifth of women in the labor market,” said Chairman Beyer. “Latinas participate in the economy at higher rates than their white peers, yet ongoing racial discrimination and barriers in the labor market contribute to higher rates of economic insecurity and lower wages. For example, Hispanic women were among the hardest hit by pandemic job losses, and Latinas are more affected by the gender pay gap than any other major racial or ethnic group in the U.S. labor market. That the wage disparity holds true regardless of education makes clear that education alone cannot address the ways Latinas are held back in the economy. We, in Congress, must do more to confront these economic and social injustices. To build a more just and prosperous economy, our policies must recognize the increasingly vital role that Latina workers play in delivering on the promise of this great nation.”
“This report shines a light on the disparities faced by Latina workers,” said Chair Dr. Ruiz. “They play a key role in the economic strength of the United States as the second-largest group of women workers in the country. Still, they face barriers like low wages and affordable childcare. We must continue to address these disparities with policies that promote equitable economic growth.”