Today is Latina Equal Pay Day – a day symbolizing on average when a Latina’s earnings would match White, non-Latino men’s pay from the year prior. That is, Latinas have to work until October 29th in order to earn what men made in 2019. This day shifts each year as statistics change.
However, this year is unlike any other in recent history. Not only are Latinas still making only 55 cents to the dollar, in comparison to the average 79 cents of white women, but the global pandemic has affected Latina unemployment rates beyond any other group. As reported by NPR, Latinas have left the workforce at “nearly three times the rate of white women and more than four times the rate of African Americans.”
In non-pandemic times, the Latina wage gap is on its own, a significant issue. While a lower paycheck may not seem like a big deal on a week-to-week basis, over time this can average to be a costly loss. Leanin.org estimates that the average Latinas loses about $1.1 million to the wage gap during their lifetime.
The loss of Latinas in the workforce due to the pandemic coupled with the Latina wage gap is not only bad news for the Latina community, but it could have devastating ramifications for our global economy.
Latinas are more likely to work in jobs that were affected by the pandemic. The national unemployment rate is 7.9% but Latinas are facing an 11% unemployment rate. This loss of work certainly affects household incomes many of which cannot afford to be a single income household creating a ripple effect in purchasing power and economic growth.
On a cultural level, Latinas are often the matriarchs and feel responsible for the care of everyone in their household (whether or not they should feel that way – well, that’s for a different article). While we don’t know how this will affect the return to work rate post-pandemic, the longer one is out of work, the harder it is to come back. Another important note is that not only is the Latina wage gap 55 cents to the dollar, the wage gap for Latina mothers is 45 cents to the dollar. Couple this with the feelings of duty and responsibility, this could make the return to work rate lower than economically desired.
As bleak as these numbers sound, it’s important to remember that Latinas are resilient and resourceful. Even through the uncertainties of the pandemic, Latinas remain a cornerstone of the small business community.
According to a Stanford Graduate School of Business report, “from 2007 to 2015, nearly half of the growth in new Latino businesses were started by Latina women, which is a much lower growth rate for female white (13%) and Black (20%) entrepreneurs.” As JP Morgan pointed out, “…closing the opportunity gap for Latino-business owners will represent $1.46 trillion in GDP that could buy everybody a nice little tax cut or a lot more services.”
While of course we want to see Latinas succeeding at all levels in all sectors and be paid fairly and equitably, we cannot continue to ignore the growing number of Latina-owned businesses. Entrepreneurship provides Latinas with the opportunity to set their own wages and provide for their families on their own terms. These businesses need access to outside funding, bank investments, and other infrastructure support.
At Powerful Latinas Rising, we have dedicated a section of our platform to Latina-owned businesses called Julia’s List. Julia’s List provides consumers the ability to search for Latina-owned businesses across the country and across sectors. We also promote the businesses on social media and through our articles. This type of promotion is invaluable to small businesses who cannot pay for publicists, social media teams, or graphic designers.
So while the numbers around the pandemic unemployment and Latina wage gap are alarming and should be cause for action, perhaps the action we should focus on is a concerted investment in our Latina-owned small businesses.
If you are a Latina-owned small business and would like to join our directory, email firstname.lastname@example.org.