Latinas in the U.S. still face striking wage gap

Story at a glance

  • Thursday, Dec. 8 is Latina Equal Pay Day, an annual reminder of the stark difference Latinas earn in comparison to their white counterparts.

  • A report from the nonprofit Justice for Migrant Women found that Latinas with reported earnings made 0.54 cents for every $1 a White non-Hispanic man earned in 2021.

  •  That gap was even wider in 2020, when Latinas earned just 0.49 cents for every $1 a White non-Hispanic man earned.  

Thursday is Latina Equal Pay Day, an annual reminder that Latinas in the United States are significantly underpaid.  

Findings from a new report from the human and civil rights nonprofit Justice for Migrant Women show that last year, Latinas in the United States made 0.54 cents for every $1 a White non-Hispanic man earned. 

The average white non-Hispanic male in the U.S. working full-time and part-time earns about $50,624 a year, according to analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from Justice for Migrant Women.  

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Meanwhile, the average amount of money a Latina makes in a year is just $25,312, according to the analysis.  

That difference is even wider for Latinas born outside the U.S.  

According to Founder and CEO of Justice for Migrant Women Monica Ramirez, a foreign-born Latina working full-time, part-time or seasonally in the U.S. makes 0.46 cents for every $1 earned by a white non-Hispanic man.  

Report crafters considered Latinas will all types of reported earnings last year—be it from full-time work, part-time, or seasonal labor—when calculating the pay gap.   

The choice to include the money earned by part-time and seasonal Latina workers is not typical in many pay gap analysis, according to Ramirez.  

But the organization wanted to me more inclusive in their analysis and create a “fuller picture” of the experiences of working Latinas with reported earnings in the U.S., Ramirez said. 

In the report, crafters note that the wage gap between Latinas working full-time and white non-Hispanic men is smaller than the overall average for all Latinas with any reported earnings in 2021.  

Latinas working full-time earned a few cents more than their part-time and seasonal counterparts, 0.57 to be exact, for every $1 a white non-Hispanic man made last year.  

At that rate it takes a Latina working full-time about 10 months to make as much as her White non-Hispanic male counterparts.  

And while these numbers are stark, they are slight improvement from 2020.  

While the pandemic devastated all groups of people in the U.S., Black and Latino communities were disproportionally impacted by the virus and the economic hardships of pandemic-related closures.  

As a result, pay gaps widened with Latina workers earning 0.49 cents for every $1 a White non-Hispanic man earned during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“The pandemic really did set Latinos back, because of the number of women that had to leave [work],” Ramirez said. “Now, they’re returning to work and that’s why you see that gap closing a bit.” 

But while progress might be slow, Ramirez told Changing America that that she believes that Latinas will eventually achieve pay equality. 

But a few changes need to take place at the federal level before that change can happen like the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Be Heard in the Workplace Act, which prevents employers from entering contracts with certain nondisclosure clauses, according to the nonprofit.  

“Latinas over-index in low-paying jobs,” said Ramirez. “We need to make sure that all workers in our country have the same rights and benefits.”