Today is Latina Equal Pay Day. Indeed, it’s a day to celebrate the magnitude and quality of hard work of Latinas across all industries. However, the meaning of the day is a bit more sobering. October 29 marks the day when Latina pay catches up to that of white, non-Hispanic men from the previous year. In other words, it takes Latinas 23 months to earn what white men earn in just 12.
Why it matters
Over the course of the year, we observe several “Equal Pay Days” to spotlight the inexcusable financial disparity experienced by women, moms, Black women and Native women. As Latina Equal Pay Day is the year’s final commemoration, we realize that Latinas must work longer than everyone. Such inequality sends ripple effects into not only the families they support, but their communities. If a local cannot be economically participatory, do we really have a strong economy?
Such inequality continues over 50 years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In fact, Latinas typically earn 55 cents to every white man’s dollar. This is compared to that of all women, who earn 82 cents to each U.S. man’s dollar. What’s more, the pay gap only worsens with age. It increases over the course of a woman’s career and is widest for women 55 to 64 years old. By the time women are over 65, because they have earned less to begin with and were therefore paid less in the Social Security system, they also face an income gap in retirement.
A need for change
If we fixed the pay gap, an estimated $512.6 billion would be added to the national income and would reduce poverty in families with a working woman by half. Indeed, according to the Economic Policy Institute, access to better quality education would help. Even more crucial though is offering and facilitating access to higher paid roles and strengthening workplace protections.
Right now, Latinas represent 8.7 percent of the U.S. population, which comes out to a whopping 27.9 million people. This number is only rising, as by 2060, 27 percent of women in the U.S. will be Latina.
To learn more, you can attend today’s Labor Council for Latin American Advancement panel at 9 a.m. PST/12 p.m. EST: The Devastating Effects of Income Inequality of Latina Workers.
Though change at the policy level is essential, you can also start by having conversations in your own life. What does your work environment look like and why? Do you have open discussions about salaries? To start this dialogue, you can share the infographic below.