Americans across the nation have been affected by the pandemic, but Latinas have experienced most job losses this year. The Latina unemployment rate hit 20.2 percent in April, meaning one in five Latinas was out of work. From August to September, Latina unemployment rose monthly while it dropped for everyone else, and it’s now at 11 percent. The 19th, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom, published an article finding a correlation between the increase in unemployment among Latinas this year and the rising interest in voting in the upcoming election.
Typically, Latinas go to the polls at 14 to 20 percent lower rates than non-Latino Black or White women, according to a study by Equis Research. Among the reasons the publication found why Latinas have historically not been active voters is their fear that they don’t fully understand the process, language barriers, or the belief that their vote doesn’t really make a difference.
A poll in three major states with large Latino populations — Florida, Texas, and Arizona — by UnidosUS, the nation’s largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization, found that the issues around job loss or pay cuts this year made over 60 percent of those polled more likely to vote this year. They also found that nearly 60 percent in all three states said that they wouldn’t be able to make ends meet without unemployment benefits, yet between 45- 52 percent did not apply for UI benefits, with a majority believing they don’t qualify or are eligible.
According to a report by the Small Business Administration, Latinos start about one in four new businesses in the U.S., and Latinas own about 35 percent of them.
“Latinas would have been disproportionately impacted by more relief,” Orson Aguilar, a principal with UnidosUS, told The 19th. “Latinas have been growing their businesses at record levels and really need that extra [Paycheck Protection Program] loan,” he added. “That extra stimulus check goes a long way.”
The three fields that suffered the largest job losses between February and May of this year are hospitality, retail, and “other services,” according to the Economic Policy Institute, and nearly half of all Latina workers are employed in those three. Latinas make up almost 15 percent of the workforce in hospitality, the largest of any group. Latinas also have significantly less access to paid sick leave and remote work.
With so many Latinas of all ages affected by this pandemic, many women — especially older Latinas — are planning to vote. According to Pew Research Center, thirty-two million Latinos are eligible to vote this year, making us the largest racial or ethnic minority in a presidential election for the first time.
“It has made me think a lot that it’s important to vote, and especially women — we have to count,” Norma Flores, 54, told The 19th. She had worked as a server for 20 years at Fiesta Henderson Hotel and Casino outside Las Vegas after immigrating from Mexico and was laid off in August.
“The day the Latina values herself, that day she is going to be able to raise her voice,” she said.