Latinas were more likely than other groups to drop out of the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic according to a report released Wednesday by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.
From March 2020 to March 2021, 2.7% of Latina workers dropped out of the labor market compared to 1.7% of white women workers in the same period, according to “Latinas Exiting the Workforce: How the Pandemic Revealed Historic Disadvantages and Heightened Economic Hardship.”
The report provided three main reasons for Latinas’ exit from the workforce.
One reason was that Latinas are disproportionately employed in leisure, hospitality and other industries that were particularly vulnerable to closures put in place due in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The second is that Latinas are disincentivized from participating in the labor force due to a lack of access to education and training opportunities for higher wage positions.
The third was that Latinas are disproportionately responsible for family care obligations relative to Latino men and are more likely to stay at home than mothers of other racial backgrounds.
“Over the course of this pandemic, we have seen women of color struggle much more than white men, often because of their overrepresentation in low-wage sectors and because of their roles as primary caregivers to their families,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, the research director for the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative and a co-author of the report.
The report also showed that Latinas experienced one of the highest unemployment rates at the start of the pandemic in April 2020 — 20.2%. Only rates for Black men and Black women being higher.
In December 2020, the unemployment rate for Latinas was 9.1% compared to 5.7% for white women, according to the report.
The report provided evidence that inequities in the workforce existed before the COVID-19 pandemic and argued that returning to pre-pandemic workforce conditions would “leave millions of Latinas without access to true economic opportunity and social mobility, which ultimately would diminish the nation’s long-term competitiveness.”
The report recommended that policy makers increase the minimum wage, increase child care support, introduce mandatory paid family leave, expand the child tax credit and strengthen skills training and education programs to address the inequities present in the workforce.
“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,” Dominguez-Villegas said.
“Providing better access to child care and skills training that provides opportunities for economic mobility would go a long way toward ensuring not only jobs but dignified work for women of color.”