COVID-19 highlights gross inequality on this Latina Equal Pay Day

It’s Oct. 29, and it’s Latina Equal Pay Day. That means that on this day, the typical Latina has been paid as much since Jan. 1, 2019 as the typical white man was paid between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. That’s because Latinas are paid just 54 or 55 cents on the white man’s dollar overall.

It’s a particularly grievous injury in this year of the pandemic. “We may be valued less, but Latinas are among the pandemic’s most essential workers,” actor and activist America Ferrera writes. “When most Americans were told to stay safe at home, many Latinas didn’t have the luxury of protecting themselves and their families first. They were called to the front lines to protect other Americans; to do the work of caring for sick Americans in hospitals, working the fields to keep Americans fed, or supporting other families through domestic work. Even though the Latinx community makes up less than 20% of the U.S. population, we make up over 40% of workers in both the meatpacking and farming industries.”

But it’s not all about what industries Latinas work in. Latinas are also paid just 67 cents “relative,” the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) notes, “to non-Hispanic white men with the same level of education, age, and geographic location.” This is not just a pay disparity coming from differences in education or age, in other words, so don’t try to make that argument. In fact, “Latina doctors, many of whom are currently treating coronavirus patients, are paid 68% of the average hourly wage of non-Hispanic white male doctors (a difference of $20.46 per hour).”

Medicine isn’t the only industry of critical importance during the coronavirus pandemic in which Latinas are underpaid, EPI reports. It’s also true of restaurant wait staff, cashiers, child care workers, and elementary and middle school teachers.

There can be no serious argument that this isn’t about both sexism and racism. 

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on October 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson is a staff writer on labor for Daily Kos.

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