Latinas Exit Workforce at Highest Rate, See Slow Recovery | Business and finance
PHOENIX (AP) – Teresa Marez has spent 14 years building a solid client base as a hairdresser in San Antonio. When her son, who has autism, had to switch to virtual learning because of the pandemic, she quit her job to help him.
It’s been 10 months and the customers are all gone.
Marez is one of the many Latinas who have been unemployed since last year. Latinas have left the workforce at higher rates than any other demographic and have had some of the highest unemployment rates throughout the pandemic, according to a report from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, a group Latino-focused think tank, provided to The Associated Press ahead of its release Wednesday.
This could cause problems not only for a post-pandemic economic recovery, but for the long-term stability of the country as baby boomers continue to retire and women in general feel pressured to quit their jobs. And women like Marez, who has used up a large chunk of her savings, are missing out on years of economic gains.
Before the pandemic, Latinas were expected to increase their number of employees by almost 26% from 2019 to 2029 – a higher rate than any other group, according to the report. It is not known if or how this projection will now change.
Marez isn’t sure what to do next.
“If I had to start styling my hair again, I would do it all over again, really,” she said. “I was a little exhausted anyway and I don’t see myself being around 45 from the start.”
Marez plans to go back to school to study nutrition and Spanish, but she is still making a plan.
The UCLA study found that Latinas experienced the highest unemployment rate – 20% – of any demographic group in April 2020, just after all business closures began. At the end of 2020, when businesses began to reopen, Latinas and black women still had nearly double the unemployment rate of their white counterparts, according to the study.
Also disturbing: the rate at which Latinas have completely left the workforce, which the government generally considers to be the case when a person has not actively looked for work for four weeks.
The labor force participation of Latinas aged 25 to 54 fell from 71% before the pandemic to just under 67% in May 2021, according to the latest data available from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This translates to 465,000 fewer Latinas working or looking for work.
Kassandra Hernández, senior researcher on the UCLA report, said this was crucial for how the economy was recovering from the pandemic.
“If we don’t recognize the complexities or nuances of these narratives, of what’s going on with Latinas, we might actually be in retreat,” Hernández said.
Simply put: America’s workforce needs Latinas to fill the many jobs that are slowly starting to return and those that will be left behind by retiring baby boomers.
Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the University of California at Berkeley, said the US economy is already facing challenges from slowing birth rates, an aging workforce and declining labor force. immigration. Pensions among older Americans have also increased. A growing workforce is a key driver of economic growth.
“The long-term trend is that we don’t have enough workers,” she said. “If you want to make sure you have a vibrant and growing economy, you need more people. “
But Allegretto said companies must also offer higher wages and better benefits so that more of those who were made redundant or who left their jobs during the pandemic can re-enter the workforce. It may take longer as much of the economy is still reopening after the pandemic closes. California just lifted all its trade restrictions on Tuesday, she noted.
“If (employers) are to start softening the deal, maybe with benefits, maybe with time off, that’s a good thing,” Allegretto said.
Latinas face many obstacles. Research has shown that Latinas are more likely than all other American mothers to stay home with their children instead of working. They also tend to do a lot more home work than the men in their lives, spending twice as much time on household activities and almost three times as much time looking after household members than Latinos.
Latinos are overrepresented in low-paying jobs in the hospitality and broader service industries, stifling their upward mobility.
Hernández said that women need to have access to childcare services, better pay and educational opportunities to help them overcome not only disparities in career opportunities, but also disadvantages. setbacks caused by the pandemic.
The pandemic has forced many Latinos out of work to care for not only their children but also their extended families – “les tios or abuelos or vecinos – you name it,” said Xochitl Oseguera, vice president of MamásConPoder, the Spanish speaking community that is part of MomsRising, a local organization that works to improve women’s economic security.
Latinos have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They were more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their vaccination rates are also much lower, so while many Americans believe the coronavirus is behind them, the pandemic lives on in Latin American communities.
Oseguera works with Latinas in different industries and hears firsthand why so many people haven’t returned to the workforce.
“They fear to go back and get sick,” Oseguera said. “My hope is also that these jobs really reconsider how we have worked with essential workers to not only have a safe environment, but also have access to paid family leave, paid sick leave, access to a fair wage. , so that we can really recover from the past year of not being in the workforce.
For Ciara Fernandez Faber, returning to work also depends on the work-life balance she needs to take care of her toddler. Faber, who lives in Denver, quit her job as a lawyer when her son’s preschool closed. Her husband is a doctor and it was not an option for him to stay at home with him.
“In my experience, it doesn’t matter what profession it is, it just seems that overall it had more of an impact on Latin women. I don’t know if that’s like the values we place on work-life balance or child care issues. I don’t know, ”Faber said.
Associated Press editors Alexandra Olson in New York and Chris Rugaber in Arlington, Virginia contributed to this report.
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