It is no secret that the reality for women of color in the United States is a parallel one, with more obstacles and, more often than not, fewer opportunities. Add to that a global pandemic never before seen, and Latinas have everything to lose.
A new UnidosUS report released this past February demonstrates the gravity of this situation with numbers.
Entitled “Closing the Latina Wealth Gap: Building an Inclusive Economic Recovery After COVID,” the largest Hispanic civil rights advocacy organization in the U.S. shed light on the impact of the pandemic on the economy and well-being of Latinas, with the intention of paving the way for an effective recovery.
The study is based on more than 2,000 interviews with Latinas, Latinos, white men, and women and was conducted by Edison Research Group in February.
The findings are saddening:
- Latinas are much more likely than White women to be single parents (32% to 19%)
- Among Latinas, 68% have sole responsibility as caregiver to their children, compared to 59% among White women
- Latina moms are much more likely to have parenting responsibilities negatively affect their careers, with 33% saying they have sacrificed career prospects for childcare reasons
- Since the pandemic began, 36% of Latinas have seen their family responsibilities increase “a lot.” This compares to 27% among Hispanic men, 22% among White women, and 21% among White men
- While the Pandemic caused employment levels to decline among all four demographic groups, Latinas reported their already low level of full-time employment before COVID-19 (42%) declining to 34% at the time they were surveyed
- The pandemic has hit Latinas ages 35-54 especially hard – 46% of Latinas in this age group say the pandemic has had a major effect on their personal finances and that they have yet to recover
- Latinas are far more likely than other groups to find it difficult to afford necessities like food (36%) and are also far more likely to seek food donations for shelters and food banks (38%)
- 49% of the Latinas surveyed assured having spent “most of all” of their life savings during the pandemic. This is double the rate among White women (24%) and White men (19%)
- One-quarter of Latinas have “gone into debt or maxed out a credit card,” and 24% have “missed a car, student loan, or credit card payment”
- One-quarter of Latinas believe that either “The American Dream no longer exists” (16%) or that “The American Dream never existed” (9%)
“Damaging job and income losses experienced by Hispanic women was made worse by the previous administration’s failure to manage the pandemic and relief efforts that left too many immigrant essential workers out,” UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía said. “The recently enacted American Rescue Plan is a big step forward in repairing the damage done to these workers. As this report shows, President Biden’s administration must prioritize these vulnerable essential workers in ongoing relief efforts and must include these workers in efforts to rebuild the nation stronger than before. Investment in Latina workers is key to addressing long-standing racial and ethnic economic inequality in the country.”
For the nearly 30 million Latinas living in the United States, the road to full economic recovery will be much more difficult due to pre-pandemic structural inequalities. Lower wages and fewer benefits at work, coupled with lower homeownership and more family responsibilities, such as child care, contribute to the unequal wealth gap experienced by Latinas.
“Even though Latinas have faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a testament to their resilience that they are still optimistic about the future. Their steadfast commitment to this country’s highest values of hard work and persistence makes Latinas an inspirational force that continues to look for a shot at the American Dream,” Murguía said. “They have been key as essential workers in keeping our country running during this pandemic and will be vital in our economic recovery. It’s time that we offer them the opportunity to prosper that they deserve, especially those working in essential fields and jobs bolstering the nation’s resilience.”