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Archive for the ‘Economics’ Category

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.

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Given the current anti-immigrant climate in the U.S., it comes as no surprise that an Alabama federal judge upheld many provisions of that state’s new immigration legislation, which takes Arizona’s SB 1070 and raises it a few rights-limiting provisions. And while much of the abhorrent legislation was allowed to stand, it is hard to tell for now whether the judge’s reservation of judgment on numerous provisions—and reservation of implementation in the interim—is a good or bad sign for immigrants. What does seem clear, though, is that on the state and federal level alike, there is confusion not about the state of the economy (after all, who could be confused about that?), but about what immigrants’ contribution has been, is, and should be. A close look reveals that Alabama’s economy depends on the work of immigrants, and that the state’s new legislation will have high dollar costs to the state as well as high human costs to the immigrant population.

There appears to be general consensus that the U.S. needs to shift its economic focus in order to try to regain the economic might of a bygone era—in other words, skilled is the name of the game. But Alabama’s approach has looked backward instead of forward, cutting off immigrants’ access to many educational opportunities, effectively blocking the growth of a skilled workforce, and arguably placing a huge roadblock in the road to economic recovery and growth.

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Economic security has been a major concern for everyone, but perhaps especially so for Latinas. Studies indicate that Latinas had an 11.4% unemployment rate in August 2011, compared to about 9% overall. And when they work, Latinas earn, on average, less than sixty cents for every dollar earned by a white male. That’s why the jobs bill the President introduced to Congress last week is so important for Latinas. The bill includes provisions that will extend unemployment insurance that will benefit 1.1 million Latinos who have been out of work for six months or more and increase the paychecks for 25 million Latino workers through reduced payroll taxes.

Much of the hard work that Latinas do involves low wages and minimal worker protections. In addition, even working Latinas are uninsured at a high rate. In 2008, the median income for Latinas was $16,417, compared to a median income of $20,867 for women of all races, $24,003 for Latinos, and $33,161 for men of all races. Given this disparity, and the expense of healthcare, it is not surprising that 38% of Latinas were uninsured in 2008—the highest rate of all groups of women.

Jobs are a huge piece of establishing economic security for Latinas and for all Americans. But they are not enough. In these tough economic times, it is necessary to keep a broader perspective: one that recognizes that work is not what makes one a person worthy of living in dignity and that public programs have an important role to play in improving the lives of all of America’s people.

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By Rita Martinez, Development and Communications Intern

The repercussions of this devastating economic downturn have decidedly proven the significance of wealth. While those privileged enough to have such wealth remained relatively unscathed by the recession, most people will agree that its effects on the working class were debilitating. Many families struggled to pay their mortgages in a timely fashion, thereby accumulating large debts and ultimately finding themselves in a situation of economic dependence.

The existence of a wealth gap is not new- but I would like to demonstrate its magnitude I will briefly refer to Lifting As We Climb, a report which depicts the wealth gap for women of color. It reveals disturbing statistics, i.e. the median wealth of single Latina women is $120, as opposed to $41,500 for single White women. When you consider this data in times of current economic upheaval, it becomes clear why women of color are so disproportionally impacted. Their economic security is built on such shaky foundations and so losing a job or getting sick severely impacts their ability to make ends meet. Their lack of protection from such a topsy-turvy economy troubles me- and it is why I am concerned about the implications of stricter loan regulations.

I understand the need for stricter lending requirements after our current economic downturn. However, I have a problem with the way some lenders are interpreting eligibility for a loan. Most lenders require proof of income and verification of continued income for the next three years before they can approve a home loan. This is not unreasonable, but some lenders are considering maternity leave as a complete stop of income. This interpretation will deny pregnant women the ability to purchase a home and therefore accumulate wealth.

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By Susana Sánchez, Community Mobilization Intern

In a historic decision on June 1st the New York Senate signed into law a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights (Senate bill 2311-D) becoming the first state in the country to enact a law granting labor rights to domestic workers. The law guarantees basic worker rights: an eight hour day, overtime, one day off a week, paid holidays, paid vacation and sick days, the right to collectively organize, and requires employers to give 14 day termination notice to employees. In addition, employers who violate the law might receive a civil penalty from the state commissioner.

The law is a significant gain for the labor and women’s rights movement. It has been well documented that most employers do not even see themselves as employers and their domestic workers as employees. The law begins to change that dynamic; it clearly defines domestic workers as employees under the definition of New York minimum wage law. However, one has to dig deep into the legislation to understand the extent to which this law affects women of color, particularly, undocumented immigrant women.

Domestic work, in its broad definition, has being historically performed by women of color.  Currently, more than 90 percent of domestic workers are women of color. In New York, one percent or less of domestic workers was born in the U.S. Across the country Latina, Caribbean and African immigrants (mostly undocumented) have taken over the sector because many of them are undocumented and/or lack the language skills to work in other industries.

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An article published online last week in the journal Pediatrics suggests that $13 billion and over 900 infants’ lives could be saved if 90% of infants were breastfed exclusively for six months.

According to the most recent recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfeeding is beneficial to the health of both the mother and child. It may decrease rates of ovarian and breast cancer among women and bone-related injuries and diseases. The AAP recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for six months, and non-exclusively breastfed for the first year and beyond as desired.

In this study, the authors undergo a cost analysis using data from previous studies. They calculated the approximate number of infants that are breastfed and the number that are not exclusively breastfed using data from a 2005 CDC survey. Then, they looked at a collection of diseases for which a lower risk has been reported for exclusively breastfed infants and the associated health costs for those diseases. The study did not look at every disease associated with breastfeeding, and in particular left out type 2 diabetes because of insufficient data. The overall conclusion shows that the US incurs billions of dollars in excess costs due to the

At the end of the day, breastfeeding is a lifestyle choice. However, given its health benefits, it should be a more accessible option for women who do prefer to breastfeed their children. Not every mother-child pair is capable of breastfeeding, but those that are should be able to do so without excessive inconvenience. Today, many women are unable to breastfeed their infants due to inadequate maternity leave, inability to take time off of work, and insufficient access to counseling about lactation. Additionally, healthcare providers often fail to inform women about the benefits of breastfeeding, and are unable to give women practical advice regarding breastfeeding.

Increasing support services for breastfeeding could save hundreds of lives and billions of dollars, which could be directed towards saving additional lives.

By Zarah Iqbal, Policy Intern

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Since the economic downturn in 2008, a study produced by the Guttmacher Institute indicates that a sizeable number of women have altered their childbearing plans because of the recession. The report, highlighted by The Washington Post, surveyed 947 women ages 18 to 34 that can get pregnant and live in a household with an average income of below $75,000. Some findings show that:

•    31% want to delay pregnancy
•    28% want fewer children the previously intended
•    7% no longer want any additional children

Senior Research Associate, Laura Lindberg states that, “Women, especially those that are facing financial difficulties, want to avoid unintended pregnancy more than ever, and many of them are having difficulties affording their contraception to do this.”

Guttmacher’s findings include:

•    29% of women agreed with: “With the economy the way it is, I am more careful than I used to be about using contraception every time I have sex”
•    46% of the women who said they did not want more children also said they are “thinking more about sterilization”
•    1 in 4 women have had to delay gynecological or birth control visits in the past year to save money
•    23%  of the women said that they are having more difficulty paying for birth control than in the past
•    8% said they sometimes do not use any birth control as a way to save money.
•    18% of women using the birth control pills reported inconsistent use as a way to save money.

Due to lack of health care, added stress, and the current economic situation, women are actively seeking out cheaper and better ways to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy. Planned Parenthood President, Cecil Richards, said that this study “confirms what we are hearing at Planned Parenthood health centers across the country.”

Unintended pregnancy and the financial downturn also affect men. HealthDay/U.S. News & World Report reports that in early 2009 doctors began to notice an increase in vasectomies. And while the recession might end soon, according to Lindberg, “indicators may take a long time to translate into families”

By Carlos Blanco, Community Mobilization Intern

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