‘Equal Pay Day’ for Latinas Highlights Yawning Wage Disparities

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‘Equal Pay Day’ for Latinas Highlights Yawning Wage Disparities

Emily Crockett

Latinas would have had to work until today, October 8, to catch up to what white men made last year alone.

A typical Latina woman worker would have to work more than 21 months to make what a typical white male worker made in 12 months, according to a new report.

Put another way, Latinas would have had to work until today, October 8, to catch up to what white men made last year alone, making today “Equal Pay Day” for Latinas.

The analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of updated Census data on wages and poverty found that Latinas who work full-time and year-round only make 56 cents for every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man makes.

Latina women earn less no matter what industry they are in, and no matter what level of education they hold.

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It takes earning a bachelor’s degree or higher before Latinas make as much as a white man who lacks even a high school diploma. Latinas working as physicians and surgeons, a high-wage and male-dominated occupation, make 46 cents for every dollar a white male makes. But even working as personal care aides, who are mostly low-paid and female, Latinas face a wage gap of 77 cents on the dollar.

The wage gap for Latinas has improved by less than eight cents since 1974, compared to about a 19-cent improvement during that time for women overall.

Equal Pay Day for women overall this year was April 9, recognizing the day when women make up for their median wage gap of 77 cents on the dollar. That 77-cent figure has since been revised up to 78 cents, but the change wasn’t statistically significant, and the gap hasn’t budged in a decade.

Equal Pay Day for African-American women, who make about 64 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, was July 16.

Women of color earn so much less than either white men or white women because they have higher rates of unemployment and poverty, and they are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs earning less than $10.10 per hour.

Immigrant women face particular challenges due to language and cultural barriers, lack of access to health insurance, low-paying jobs, and difficulties with their immigration status.

Women of color are also more likely to be breadwinners than their white counterparts, so their lost wages—potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime—is especially hard on families and communities of color.

Critics of efforts to close the wage gap point to differences in occupation, education, or experience between men and women, but about 40 percent of the wage gap can’t be explained by those factors. And advocates say that whatever the reason for the wage gap, a gap exists, and better public policies like the Paycheck Fairness Act or universal child care and paid family and maternity leave could help narrow it.