Today is Latina Equal Pay Day, marking the date Latinx women across the US finally reach pay parity with white, non-Hispanic men. Nationally, it takes Latinas 23 months to make as much as white men earn in one year (based on median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work). Latinas stand to lose $29,724 each year to the wage gap, which could pay for eight months of child care, 18 months of rent payments, and more than two years of food costs.
For Latinas in DC, the picture is less egregious, but still stark. Latinas earn 64 percent of what white, non-Hispanic men do in a year and it takes them nearly 19 months to make up the difference, according to DCFPI analysis of five-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS). Latina workers are heavily concentrated in lower-paid service jobs that were hard hit by the pandemic. As a result, Latina workers not only earn less, they also experience higher unemployment from the pandemic-driven economic downturn. The poverty rate for Latinas was 14.1 percent according to new ACS data, compared with just 5.7 percent for white women. Likewise, in 2021, 7.6 percent of Latinas were unemployed compared with 3.3 percent of white women. For Latinas in the informal cash economy or for those who are undocumented, federal relief and unemployment insurance largely excluded them.
Census Household Pulse Survey data shows Latinas nationally continue to experience hardship today: Between October 5 and 17, 2022, nearly one in five Latinas in the US (18.4%) were in a household that had lost employment income in the previous four weeks and nearly one in five Latinas (19.4%) reported not having enough food to eat in the previous week.
The wage gap and relatively lower income also limit Latinas’ ability to buy a house, pay for college, or save for the future. In DC, white households have 22 times the wealth of Latinx households. Wealth provides a cushion for emergencies, offers support across generations, and enables people to seek educational opportunities and higher wages.
The pandemic only exacerbated the longstanding racial and gender disparities that harm women of color. By expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, creating a pay equity fund to support early childhood educators, and providing cash payments to workers excluded from federal relief, DC lawmakers took important steps towards closing those disparities. Policies that provide a permanent wage-replacement for people ineligible for traditional unemployment and offer a local child tax credit would go even further to disrupt the undervaluing of Black and brown women and support their well-being.