Trends in the workforce are moving towards positive territory. However, despite the shift, there are many issues that continue to trouble the U.S. labor force such as inequality. A real imbalance of wealth, salaries and growth is being accumulated by certain groups more than others. The divide can be broken down by gender, race, age or income. The competition to stay in the game is fierce, livelihood stands in the balance for a large part of the population.
There is some good news, however, women are making traction in higher education leading to better employment. We can boast about opportunities that previous generations did not have but there are roadblocks, yet, to tear down. It is a job for our generation, as well as, those that come after ours. Pushing the envelope to demonstrate we are capable of having the high-paying, leadership roles whether in corporate or elsewhere is essential to remain relevant. The market continues to show new signs of change in other areas, as well.
Recent research says that Latinas are increasingly being noticed in the job market. The key working years are ages 25 to 54, it is a time when we generally tend to be most productive. It is reported that the employment rate for this group has risen 2.2% since 2007. While many Latino cultures are known to be led by old-fashioned patriarchal structures, it is apparent that an increase in college fulfillment by the age group is creating a new wave of productivity. There is another aspect to this new explosion in the workforce. Women as a whole in this age group count for over half of the college-educated labor population. The news is encouraging as we go into the next decade stronger but still earning less than men.
Although pay scales are not pairing up, it is empowering to see that Latinas are gaining territory in the market. Growing up in a Dominican household during the 1970s, I watched my mother take care of our family while dad worked at a textile factory in the fashion district to support the household. She did all she could to make sure everyone’s needs were met at home. Not short of the desire to pave her own way, mom registered at The City College of New York for nursing during our early years, however, she dropped out less than a year into the program. The guilt of leaving my sister and me with a sitter then rushing through dinners was too much for her to bear. I did not truly appreciate the offering until I became a woman, mother, and wife. There are sacrifices we can only understand if we walk in the shoes of the other person.
My decisions as a young woman took me on a different path than my mother’s. My priorities were different since I intentionally held off motherhood as long as possible. The goal was to create a foundation that would sustain me, regardless of whether or not there was a partner present. The assumption is that most women want a family, and in order to have it something has to give but times are changing. According to preliminary numbers released by the Centers and Disease Control in 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, fertility rates hit an all-time low. The rate of younger women having babies has decreased, more interestingly is the number of women in their 30s childless is also plummeting. There is a pattern showing for older women who have never married to go without having children. The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) reports that Latina women have suffered the most dramatic drop in fertility rates. There is, however, uncertainty as to the reasons why these women are putting off the process to bear children.
The decision to delay or ultimately not have children is an important one. The recent rate of women between the ages of 25-34 of Latino descent entering the workforce is consistently growing. Education has become a priority leading females to better prepare for the future. The women in these ethnic groups have booming careers in the service industry area. A large number of them are taking on jobs in health care building up the numbers while making a difference in the various communities across the United States. Decades ago, the emotional burden of taking care of family first deterred a vast majority from going out to build a career on the backs of their family, not to mention the financial complications hindered any chances of upward mobility. Today, our passion and sense of responsibility continues to be there but we have newfound awareness. There is a growing understanding that creating a life for ourselves does not necessarily require sacrificing having a family.
Being a mother of a young adult, I’m careful as I help guide her into womanhood. It is crucial the up and coming generation of young Latinas know that they are entitled to have a career, as well as a family. Is it possible to have it all at the same time? It remains to be seen, juggling multiple roles is something we are learning to do more and more but can take a toll on our emotional, physical and mental well-being. We are becoming more empowered as we crush the traditional picture set by colonial society. The natural progression leads women to make different choices than our mothers and grandmothers in terms of profession and motherhood. It is an exciting, yet challenging time as the new woman is breaking all kinds of mold.
I believe a key to the success of Latinas slaying the job market will be finding the equilibrium between old and new world thinking. The generations that came before us laid out the narrative we are expected to follow. The paths being paved are dramatically in contrast to the ones women took years ago. The dare is to build a new story that offers a real-life picture of the modern Latina. She is a woman that can have children, partner and fruitful career without giving up who she is or what she desires, none of which is a new concept. American culture has long-fostered this updated mindset of the new working woman. Culturally, Latino had not quite caught up to the idea due to patriarchal attitudes established by older Latino generations until now. Stars are aligning, this is our time to show the world our shine. We must continue to slay in every aspect of life not just the job market.