New Report Finds Latinas Are Dropping Out of the Job Market at an Alarming Rate

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Photo courtesy of Fortune.

One of the most important consequences of the COVID pandemic has been the difficulty in understanding economic and labor indicators. While some perceive exponential growth in the economy and a robust labor market, others know that this is in contrast to two years of virtual paralysis.

A recent UCLA report made this paradox evident. While Bureau of Labor Statistics figures released last Friday show a robust labor market, the UCLA researchers found that a record number of workers quit their jobs in 2021.

About 4.3 million Americans quit in December alone.

However, one of the most troubling findings of the Latinas Exiting the Workforce report is that Latinas are exiting the labor force at higher rates than any demographic group, which has economists worried, CNN reported.

The Latino Policy Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles found that between March 2020 and March 2021, the number of Latinas in the labor force declined by nearly 3 percent.

“Some of our most insightful and critical workers are going to be left out of the labor force, and it’s going to be detrimental to all Americans,” said Sonja Diaz, founding executive director of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, to CNN.

Researchers say the mass exodus is due to many women losing their jobs and others quitting to focus on family needs, citing a lack of childcare assistance exacerbated by COVID-19.

According to the report, the pandemic has highlighted how Latinas struggle to look for work, find work, and stay employed due to sustained structural disadvantages.

“Hyper-segregation in low-paying jobs vulnerable to pandemic-induced shutdowns, like leisure and hospitality, paired with a lack of access to education and training opportunities that would allow them to move away from low-wage labor, caused disproportionate job losses for Latinas.”

And the numbers speak for themselves.

Before the pandemic, the number of Latinas in the U.S. labor force was projected to grow by 25.8 percent, about nine times the projected growth of white women in the labor force (3.1 percent) between 2019 and 2029. This means that Latinas are critical to a healthy and productive national workforce that invigorates the U.S. economy and maintains national competitiveness. 

However, the disproportionate effects of the pandemic could slow previously projected increases in Latina labor force participation, ultimately impacting the health and productivity of the workforce and the overall economy.

In two months, from March to May 2020, 43.5 percent, or nearly 700,000 Latinas in the leisure and hospitality sector, lost their jobs nationwide.

In one year, from March 2020 to March 2021, the number of Latinas in the labor force declined by 2.74 percent, the largest drop in the size of the labor force of any demographic group.

Despite the ups and downs, the number of Latinas in the labor force remains lower than in August 2020 and much lower than before the start of the pandemic. In April 2021, there were 122,000 fewer Latinas in the labor force than in August 2020 and 455,000 fewer Latinas in the labor force than in March 2020.