The economic recession has hit Latinas particularly hard. Even this simple, yet true, statement does nothing to paint the picture of what a disproportionate amount of Latinas face every day: unemployment, under-employment and employment without medical benefits and with economic insecurity, poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to health care.
Despite these challenges, Latinas continue to contribute to our vitality and diversity of this country. We will not stand for the unjust treatment we have faced in the 112th Congress. This dysfunctional Congress has persisted in its assault on the rights of Latinas to make important decisions about their reproductive care, yet they fail to take action on improving the U.S. economy, which has caused great displacement and widened the income inequality among our nation’s ethnic and racial groups.
Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while the unemployment rate for Latinas has dropped from 11.5% to 10.6%, the rate for whites continues to be lower at about 7.6%. Even for those Latinas fortunate to have work, they continue to face high income insecurity. A report from Wider Opportunities for Women shows that 66% of Latino households have total incomes that do not allow economic security and 85%of Latina single mothers do not earn economic security wages, despite working full time. This may be due to the fact that Latinas disproportionately work in sectors that are low-wage, part-time, do not offer benefits and are not unionized.
To add to this grim picture, a study from the Pew Research Center shows that the median wealth of white households is 18 times (!!!) that of Latino households. During the Great Recession, while the median net worth of white households dipped 16%, that of Latino household fell by a whopping 66% from $18,369.00 to $6,325.00.
As benefits continued to be tied to employment, it goes without saying that unemployment and economic insecurity have far-ranging effects that undermine the health and livelihood of Latinas, their families and their communities, including limiting Latinas’ access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
Extending unemployment insurance is a no-brainer. Any Economics 101 course will tell you that cash transfers, like unemployment insurance, stimulate the economy, as recipients are quick to spend the money, thereby increasing demand and creating jobs. If Congress fails to pass legislation extending benefits, as many as 900,000 Latinos will lose this benefit. This will be nothing short of a major injustice to the hundreds of thousands of Latinas who have been disproportionately affected by the Great Recession.
But extending unemployment benefits is the least Latinas expect from this Congress. We will not compromise for anything less than a true response to our nation’s economic challenges. At this time, we call on Congress to pass additional legislation that will strengthen the economic security of our communities, including the DREAM Act, the American Jobs Act, the Fix America’s Schools Today Act, The Pathways to Work Act and FY 2012 Appropriations legislation that restores full funding for the Workforce Investment Act Program and preserves the Pell Grants structure.
Extending unemployment benefits is the least the 112th Congress can do to promote Latina economic security and economic justice.
This post is part of the HERvotes blog carnival.