How would you feel if your paycheck was cut in half? What if you found out that the white gentleman sitting next to you, working the same hours and doing the same work, earned almost twice as much as you?
This Latina Equal Pay Day we are highlighting the everyday reality Hispanic and Latina women face in the United States. Latinas are the most under-paid group in America. On average, we earn 54 cents for every dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men – for the same work.
And the problem is not just for Latinas. The reality is that, on average, all women find themselves making less than their white, male counterparts for equal work. Women overall working full time, year round in this country are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. In 2014, black women made only 60 cents to the dollar. Asian American women made only 84 cents. Women of every race are paid less than men, and it doesn’t matter if you have a higher education; the gaps persists at all education levels. The gap gets worse as women advance in their careers.
In our own state of California, the wage gap for Latinas is even worse. The National Women’s Law Center found that in 2014 Latina women in California typically made only 43 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Do you know why Latina Equal Pay Day is November 1st? That is because Nov. 1 represents the approximate day that Latina women must work in the current year to make the same amount of money men did in the previous year. 22 months. It takes Latina women 22 months to earn what white men were paid in twelve.
That means that Latina women are losing $25,217 a year due to the wage gap. The wage gap isn’t just a number - $25,000 a year is real money.
$25,000 a year is the difference between being able to put food on the table and having to skip meals to save money.
In many parts of the country, that is a down payment on a house!
And in my district in eastern Los Angeles County – that’s the difference between having a reliable car and worrying if your car will break down on the way to work.
Based on today’s wage gap, over the course of a 40-year career, the average Latina will lose over $1 million to the wage gap. This means that Latinas would have to work 73 years to earn what white, non-Hispanic men earn in 40 years – an impossible hill to climb.
But that wage gap also has serious implications on our nation’s economic future. Latinos are expected to be a third of our nation’s population by 2050, and we know that the success of our country depends on the success of the Latino community.
We should strongly be encouraging equal pay for all women. It just makes economic sense. A recent study found that full gender equality in the workplace could boost the U.S. economy by an impressive $4.3 trillion in about a decade – making it one of the best economic stimulus ideas out there.
More money in the pocket of all women – particularly Latina women whose share of the market has only grown since 2013 – would provide a boost to our national economy since let’s face it, Latinas are usually the ones controlling the purse strings of their families.
This Latina Equal Pay Day, let’s celebrate all hardworking Latina women by standing up for Latina workers and demanding equal pay for equal work.
I stand as a strong supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act so that we can finally tear down this cycle of inequality. Next year, Congress must make passing equal pay legislation a priority. Ensuring equal pay for equal work makes economic sense. It deserves bipartisan support.