Latinas suffer dramatic losses in wealth as the pandemic deepens existing inequities, new UnidosUS report shows

WASHINGTON, DC— Latinas have experienced disproportionate financial losses during the pandemic, made worse by inequities that existed long before the arrival of COVID-19, according to a new report released today by UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. The report, “Closing the Latina Wealth Gap: Building an Inclusive Economic Recovery After COVID,” closely examines the impact of the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic on Hispanic women.

“Damaging job and income losses experienced by Hispanic women was made worse by the previous administration’s failure to manage the pandemic and relief efforts that left too many immigrant essential workers out,” UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía said. “The recently enacted American Rescue Plan is a big step forward in repairing the damage done to these workers. As this report shows, President Biden’s administration must prioritize these vulnerable essential workers in ongoing relief efforts and must include these workers in efforts to rebuild the nation stronger than before. Investment in Latina workers is key to addressing long-standing racial and ethnic economic inequality in the country.”

For the nearly 30 million Latinas living in the U.S., the road to complete financial recovery will be much more challenging because of pre-pandemic structural inequalities. Lower wages and fewer benefits at work coupled with less homeownership and more family responsibilities like childcare contribute to the lopsided wealth gap Latinas are experiencing.

Latinas have seen much bigger drops in full-time employment and in their savings compared to White women and other comparable demographics. A third of Hispanic women say they have no money saved for emergencies and 19 percent say they have less than $500.

Latina-owned businesses have also suffered during the pandemic. Latina entrepreneurship dropped by 30 percent, which was a higher rate than for Hispanic men, White women, or White men.

And Latinas have been more likely than their non-Hispanic peers to have to cut their hours at work or quit their jobs all together due to childcare needs during the pandemic. Noncitizen Latinas face a particularly high burden with childcare, as a third of them had to reduce hours or leave their jobs to take care of their children. Another important reason that the recently passed American Rescue Act allows immigrant parents working without lawful status but raising U.S. born children to qualify for emergency relief checks.

However, 75 percent of Latinas say they still believe in the American Dream, with those born outside of the U.S. being more likely (82 percent) to believe in it than those born here in the U.S. (67 percent).

“Even though Latinas have faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a testament to their resilience that they are still optimistic about the future. Their steadfast commitment to this country’s highest values of hard work and persistence makes Latinas an inspirational force that continues to look for a shot at the American Dream,” Murguía said. “They have been key as essential workers in keeping our country running during this pandemic and will be vital in our economic recovery. It’s time that we offer them the opportunity to prosper that they deserve, especially those working is essential fields and jobs bolstering the nation’s resilience.”

The study draws on more than 2,000 interviews of Latinas, Latinos, White men and White women and was conducted by Edison Research group in February. The full report is available here.