Latinas were the most heavily impacted group in the workforce due to the pandemic, new report reveals
A UCLA report shows that Latinas exited the workforce at the highest rate, and also indicates the recovery for the group will be a slow one.
As workers have experienced nationwide, the pandemic has put a major strain on the U.S. economy.
A June 2021 report by the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI), titled, Latinas Exiting the Workforce: How the Pandemic Revealed Historic Disadvantages and Heightened Economic Hardship, detailed how the pandemic has especially impacted Latinas in the workforce.
While Latinas are poised to transform the U.S. labor force and be one of the main catalysts for economic growth, “the pandemic has made clear that without considerable changes in job protection and safety-net programs, the economic potential of Latinas will be limited,” the report reads.
The pandemic has made it evident the struggle many Latinas face in looking for work, finding jobs and remaining employed because of sustained structural disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages include low-paying jobs, a lack of access to education and training opportunities, disproportionate family-care obligations, lack of support for childcare and the pandemic-induced closure of schools and daycare centers.
“A strong economic recovery that prepares us for a prosperous future is dependent on a stable Latino workforce made up of both men and women,” said Kassandra Hernández, a research analyst at the initiative and a co-author of the report. “Yet this analysis clearly shows that Latinas are being left behind, which could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.”
In analyzing the current state of Latinas in the U.S. workforce, and how it pertains to the impact of the pandemic, the report details six key findings:
- Before the pandemic, the number of Latinas in the U.S. workforce was projected to grow by 25.8% between 2019 to 2029. This is nearly nine times the projected growth of white women (3.1%) during the same frame. However, the disproportionate effects of the pandemic could slow that increase for Latinas.
- From March to May 2020, close to 700,000 Latinas in the leisure and hospitality industries lost their jobs across the country.
- Between March 2020 to March 2021, the number of Latinas in the workforce dropped by 2.74%, which is the biggest drop in the labor force size of any demographic group.
- Before the pandemic, Latinas spent over twice as much as Latino men on household activities and nearly three times as much on caring for household members, but almost half as much on work or work-related activities every day.
- From August to September 2020, 337,000 Latinas dropped out of the labor force. This was the highest labor force decrease of any demographic group, and almost three times as much as their white counterparts.
- In the time since, the number of Latinas in the U.S. labor force has fluctuated and is still lower than it was in August 2020.
“The real story here is the fact that Latinas have left the labor market, which is akin to dropping out of college. It's really hard to get those individuals back in, and [have] a pathway towards social mobility and economic opportunity,” Sonja Diaz, the founding director of UCLA LPPI, told ABC News.
Hernández told AP that if the complexities and nuances of what is happening with Latinas in the workforce, it might actually set the community back.
As a central part of the U.S. workforce, yet one of the most negatively impacted demographic groups throughout the pandemic, “policies that continue to exclude their struggles to remain employed will ultimately harm the economy at large,” the report states.
“As the country enters an economic recovery, we now have the opportunity to address the immediate needs of these women and to create a system that will address their needs in the long term, said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, the initiative’s research director and a co-author of the report.
The authors of the report recommended three solutions to help address the disproportionate disadvantages many Latinas in the workforce have faced due to the pandemic.
The recommendations are:
- Increase the minimum wage
- Strengthen the social safety net by increasing childcare support, introducing mandatory paid family leave, and expanding the child tax credit
- Strengthen training and education programs to upskill and re-skill Latinas in the labor market so they can access higher-wage employment without imminent threats due to automation of low-wage work.
“The higher risk that Latinas face in the labor market needs to be countered by comprehensive social insurance policies that effectively reach communities most in need, rather than imposing eligibility or administrative hurdles that too often stop communities of color and/or low-earning workers from accessing aid,” the report reads.
It further states that the President Joe Biden-led American Families Plan could be a step in the right direction, so long as it prioritizes the most in-need and vulnerable communities.
“It is essential that legislation adequately supports a substantial portion of the labor force that was previously projected to grow at rates faster than their white and male counterparts, especially as they return to work and continue fostering a competitive U.S. economy,” it reads.
The full UCLA report can be found here.