Latina employees continue to face a wage gap that’s barely improved since 1989

For 2022, the Equal Pay Day coalition took up a more inclusive methodology to calculate the wage gap more accurately.

The first Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 to raise awareness about the gender wage gap between men and women. The average working woman needs to work, full-time, to March 15 to match the pay of an average working man. Over the years, it has become clear that the gap varies among different communities, so other Equal Pay Days have been added to reflect the fact that many women of color have to work much longer into the year to catch up with the pay rates for white men.

In 2020 and 2021, Latina Equal Pay Day fell in late October, but this year, it’s Dec. 8. Typically, Equal Pay Day was determined using data reflecting the earnings of full-time, year-round employees. But during the COVID pandemic, many women, particularly women of color, were forced into part-time work, seasonal work or entirely out of the workforce.

It’s noteworthy to keep in mind that the Equal Pay Day coalition uses the U.S. Census Bureau documents to report on these findings. The U.S. Census uses “Hispanic” and “Latino/Latina” interchangeably to refer to people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American, Dominican and Spanish descent.

This year, the Equal Pay Day coalition looked into women who worked part-time or seasonally to more accurately depict how the gender pay gap puts Black and Hispanic communities at a disadvantage. Latina employees, overall, are paid $0.54 for every dollar paid to a white, non-Hispanic male employee. 33 years ago, in 1989, Latinas were paid $0.52 for every dollar a white man earned.

A 2021 study found that if the wage gap continues its minimal increase, at the rate it has been for the last 30 years, Latinas will not reach equal pay with white men until 2206.

Latina employees are overrepresented in low-wage jobs, the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) argued in March 2021, and face many other obstacles in the workforce.

But the pay gap impacts Latinas at every level, including executives. NPWF found that the median pay for Latinas in full-time computer and math-related jobs is $81,559, compared to the median salary for white men, which is $89,427. Latinas in legal occupations are found to be paid $66,201 per year, while white men in the same field typically make $156,908. Latina nurses are paid $58,232, compared to white male nurses making $96,778.

It benefits the entire U.S. to uplift Latina workers. Latina employees contribute greatly to the national economy, but still battle unequal pay, workplace discrimination and limited benefits and access to paid family and medical leave. More efforts should be made to close the wage gap and support policies that reward these employees’ work and expand their economic security options.

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