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Wage Gap Affects Latinas More Than Other Groups

November 9, 2018

By Marielena Castellanos

It’s been more than 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, but Latinas are far behind when it comes to wages.

Latinas in the U.S. are typically paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men according to data from the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF).

Latinos are the largest minority population and on average earn less than any other demographic. All women of color earn less than White men earn. Forbes magazine reported this month when compared to White men, Asian women earn 85 cents, Black women earn 61 cents, American Indian and Alaska Native women earn 59 cents.

Latinas are the breadwinners in over 3 million households, and they are the decision makers that account for $1 trillion in buying power in the United States, according to the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. This also means their households rely heavily on their wages to make ends meet and to get ahead. Unfortunately 40 percent of those households live below the poverty line.

In an analysis from NPWF on the wage gap in the 25 states with the largest number of Latinas who work full time, California was at the top of the list. The number of Latinas working full time year-round in the state is 1,598,564, with their median wages at $30,624 per year. The median wages for White, non-Hispanic men in the state are $71,875. The annual wage gap is $41,251.

A report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research published in October shows a single working adult needs to earn $2,751 per month or earn $33,012 to be economically secure.

With so many startling statistics, November 1 marked Latina Equal Pay Day to raise awareness about the pay gap and its negative effects on Latinas and families.

Nancy Maldonado, Interim Chief Executive Officer with the Chicano Federation of San Diego County commented on how the wage gap can be addressed, “It’s important to speak up on the issue because the first step to change is awareness.”

New research conducted by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey in partnership with UnidosUS found that there is a striking lack of awareness around the pay gap Latinas face. Nearly one in three Americans is not aware of the pay gap between Latinas and White men, but 72 percent of Americans think it’s not fair. In addition, 68 percent believe that bias against immigrants is a factor in the pay gap Latinas experience.

Political representation can also contribute to ending pay inequity by electing representatives who support efforts to end wage disparities as well as efforts that lead to a better workforce.

Numerous legislators also support changes to end the low wages Latinas receive. California U.S. Senator Democrat Kamala Harris spoke out on Latina Equal Pay day and said it’s time to pass legislation to ensure fair pay. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and San Diego Congressman Juan Vargas, among many others, also issued statements via Twitter calling for an end to the gender pay gap.

San Diego Congressman Scott Peters tweeted on the need to raise the minimum wage, pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, strengthen workplace protections and expand opportunities for high paying occupations for all women.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is a bill proposed in Congress to secure equal pay for equal work for all Americans. The American Civil Liberties Union states the law would make critical changes to the Equal Pay Act, including requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differentials are based on factors other than sex, and prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about their employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages.

Maldonado also explained the severity of the issue, “Closing the wage gap for Latinas will require year-round work and attention and it starts with recognizing that this wage disparity has an immediate and severe impact in our community.”

“Latina women must work ten months into the next calendar year just to earn what the average white man earns in a year. This not only hurts families and the economy, it also perpetuates a cycle of poverty. Finding solutions to the wage disparity that Latinas face deserves more attention,” Maldonado also said.

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