Working Hard but Earning Half: The Wage Gap Reality for Many Latinas

two women working while looking at a laptop

Towards the end of every year, Latinas reach their “equal pay day.” This is the day that Latinas “catch up” to the wages that white men earned, on average, for equal work from the year before. These wage disparities are calculated primarily from Census Bureau data, and despite false political extremist rhetoric that attempts to discredit the fact that wage disparities between women and men exist, the data and analysis of that data have been substantiated time and time again.


Latinas are at the bottom of the pay scale among all women

The fact that Latinas don’t reach their equal pay day until the end of the year every single year is an economic travesty. Because the gap fluctuates up or down by a few cents every year, the date consistently changes, but what doesn’t change is that it’s always at the end of the year. Despite Latinas being one of the fastest-growing, most powerful groups in the U.S., they hold strong to their position among the least-paid.

All women should be paid the same as their male counterparts, but we must also confront the disheartening reality that some groups of women are disproportionately affected and why that is.

The American Association of University Women compiled the 2023 equal pay dates and the related wage gaps:

Source: The American Association of University Women Equal Pay Day Calendar

Equal Pay Day—representing all women—is March 14. Women working full-time, year-round are paid 84 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day is April 5. Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women working full-time, year-round are paid 92 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

LGBTQIA+ Equal Pay Awareness Day is June 15. Without enough data to make calculations, this day raises awareness about the wage gap experienced by LGBTQIA+ folks.

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is July 27. Black women working full-time, year-round are paid 67 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 64 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

Moms’ Equal Pay Day is August 15. Moms working full-time, year-round are paid 74 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 62 cents for every dollar paid to dads.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 30. NHPI women working full-time, year-round are paid 65 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 61 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

Latina’s Equal Pay Day is October 5. Latinas women working full-time, year-round are paid 57 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is November 30. Native women working full-time, year-round are paid 57 cents and all earners (including part-time and seasonal) are paid 51 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

In 2022, Latinas came in dead last with the 2022 equal pay day landing on December 8th at a wage gap of 54 cents. While the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardships affected everyone but millionaires and billionaires who actually added trillions to their wealth, Latinas were hit the hardest out of all women. Currently, Latinas are making waves in every sector and industry, yet they're taking home only a little over half (57 cents) of what their white male counterparts earn. While the over-representation of Latinas in the service sector and lower-wage jobs accounts for some of the disparities, according to a study by UnidosUS and the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Latina pay gap extends beyond low-wage workers and impacts Latinas at every level, including Latinas in executive and other professional roles.

It’s important to note that the further we dig into the data, the more disparities are found. The situation becomes even more dire when part-time and seasonal workers are included in the analysis, bringing the average wage gap down to 54 cents. Due to the illegal and exploitative employer practices who are taking advantage of undocumented labor, it’s impossible to truly document the full extent of the wage gap for undocumented women, but some studies have shown that undocumented Latinas are paid the least among all women, and undocumented Latino men still earn more than them.

When a significant portion of our workforce remains economically disadvantaged, it's not just a personal crisis for those affected. It's an economic crisis for the entire U.S. economy and the stability of our social fabric. Communities suffer, economic growth slows, and collective potential remains unfulfilled. The fact that some women reach their equal pay day much sooner in the year indicates that it’s imperative to understand the context and race-specific reasons that each group’s gap is either improved or worsened throughout the year.

When the cultural, systemic, and unique circumstances of each group are understood, solutions can then be found that address women’s unique needs.

How can we bridge the gap?

The reasons Latinas are paid less than most women are complex. Some of the reasons are cultural and some of the reasons are systemic, which means that the solution for closing the gap will have to include both policy and personal solutions. Some possible solutions that have emerged include:

  • New and/or Improved Legislation: The Paycheck Fairness Act and the Raise the Wage Act of 2023 are crucial pieces of legislation that can help bridge the pay gap. Email, call, or write to your federal and state legislators. Make them aware of the importance of these Acts and urge them to support and expedite their passage.
  • Support Latina-Owned Businesses: Encourage and uplift Latina entrepreneurs by consciously choosing to support their businesses. Money talks, and where we choose to spend the estimated one trillion dollars + that Latinas control, can send a strong message about the value we place on the Latina economy.
  • Educate and Advocate: Share statistics and salary information, host community discussions, and amplify the voices of Latinas in your networks. Often, the disparity persists due to inexperience in how to advocate for yourself or lack of access to information such as salary ranges or workplace protections that may exist in your state.
  • Re-evaluate Workplace Practices: If you're in a position of influence in your organization, take a hard look at pay scales, hiring practices, and promotion criteria. Ensuring equity within organizations is a vital step towards a broader societal change.

While Latina Equal Pay Day serves as an annual reminder of the pay disparity that Latinas face, the topic should be one that is discussed year-round, and action should be taken consistently. Gone are the days of calladita te ves mas bonita. Women will never reach wage parity if it isn’t demanded and fought for - history has made that clear. If Latinas organize and gather their collective power, they won’t just see their own wages increase, but also those of other women who are also being robbed of the value they rightly deserve.

An American tourist yells at a young Mexican girl in Durango, Mexico, as they anticipate witnessing the solar eclipse.

On April 8, many in parts of the United States and Mexico were gearing up to watch the total solar eclipse. In the city of Durango, Mexico, residents were particularly excited because they would enjoy the most visibility of this rare phenomenon. People gathered in public spaces, including one of the most popular spots, the lookout of “El Cerro de los Remedios,” which offers panoramic views of the city. However, residents’ excitement turned sour when a group of U.S. tourists claimed to have rented the entire front area of the public space, keeping everyone else from accessing prime area with the best vantage point.

Keep ReadingShow less