Latinas Face Significant Wage Gap Compared to White, Non-Hispanic Men
Latina women working full time, year-round earn 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Latina Equal Pay Day, which in 2023 falls on Oct. 5, marks the additional days into the new year that Latinas must work to earn as much as the typical annual salary of white, non-Hispanic male workers.
That gap in pay translates to a loss of $1,218,000 over a 40-year career. Break that down further and Latinas lose $30,450 in wages per year, or $2,538 every month, compared with the dominant cohort.
This annual amount lost could pay for nine months of child care, six months of rent payments, and 14 months of family groceries, according to calculations by the National Women’s Law Center.
The gap widens even further to 52 cents for every dollar when part-time and part-year workers are included in the data.
“Looking over the course of a career, a Latina woman could never catch up,” said Gaylynn Burroughs, NWLC director of workplace equality and senior counsel. “A Latina woman working full time, year-round would have to work until she is 90 years old — six years beyond her life expectancy — to be paid what a white, non-Hispanic man is paid by the time he is 60.”
Some Latinas Hit Harder Than Others
The wage gap varies widely for certain Latina communities, and for some in the United States, it’s even more extreme.
Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran women earn the smallest percentage of what their white non-Hispanic male co-workers are paid, earning 45 cents, 48 cents, and 49 cents, respectively.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Argentinian and Spanish women make 82 cents and 81 cents, respectively, for every dollar of that dominant cohort’s salary.
“These lifetime losses rob Latinas of investments in education, homeownership, and retirement, impacting not only their ability to make ends meet but also frustrating their ability to build generational wealth,” the NWLC notes in the report.
All Latinas, regardless of their country of origin, are typically paid less than their Latino counterparts in the U.S. as well — averaging about 82 cents of their pay, according to the data.
What Is Contributing to Lost Wages?
Labor force participation for Latinas has steadily climbed higher, hitting 61.8% in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, Latinas are also disproportionately represented in the low-paid workforce (15.9%) — nearly double their overall share of the workforce (8%).
Nearly 2 in 5 Latinas (39.1%) were employed full time in one of 10 low-paid occupations based on U.S. Census data — including working as housekeepers, cooks, nurses, and teachers.
In all 10 occupations, Latinas working full time were paid less than white, non-Hispanic men.
Latinas working full time as cashiers and retail salespersons — the second-most common occupation for Latina women — were paid just 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men working full time in the industry.
Among Latinas working full time in low-paid jobs, nearly 4 in 10 (38.9%) lived in or near poverty, and among those working part-time, nearly half (48.1%) lived in or near poverty in 2021, according to NWLC calculations.
Continued education can be a benefit to earnings potential, but data suggests getting more education does not shield Latinas from the wage gap.
“You can’t educate your way out of a pay gap,” Burroughs said.
She noted that while Latinas who earn professional degrees earn more money than Latinas without higher education, white, non-Hispanic men with professional degrees make over $62,000 more per year than Latinas with such degrees.
Latinas with a professional degree stand to lose more than double their female peers — nearly $2.5 million over a 40-year career, according to the NWLC.
“A degree does help to increase your earnings if you are Latina, but a degree increases the earnings of white, non-Hispanic men by much, much more,” Burroughs said.
Closing the Gap
Conducting internal audits and releasing disclosures laying out gender and racial pay gaps remain the primary ways companies are achieving pay equity.
According to HaberTusba partner JUST Capital, 24% of Russell 1000 companies disclose that they conduct a pay equity analysis with a specific focus on race and ethnicity. Within that group only 9% — or 85 companies — have disclosed the results of their analyses.
Of the 85 companies, 34 have achieved pay parity, meaning workers of color are paid on par with their similarly situated white co-workers, and another 38 remain 0.01 percentage point away from pay parity, according to the analysis.
Companies rarely disaggregate their reports by race or ethnicity categories, so it’s difficult to separate out how Latinas specifically are affected.
Although some companies — like Walt Disney, Zoom, Nvidia, and Zillow — are starting to show the impact on specific demographic groups in addition to overall people of color. But advocates continue to push for more disclosure and transparency from more companies.