Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Data Highlights the Economic Crisis Faced by Latinos Over the Past Year
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress examines the ways Latinos have been disproportionately harmed by the economic crisis of the past year. Latinos and Black Americans have long faced structural and institutional racism that has prevented them from the same economic opportunities as their white non-Hispanic counterparts, but the pandemic and subsequent recession have further exacerbated these disparities for Latino and Black Americans.

In “Latinos Face Disproportionate Health and Economic Impacts From COVID-19,” Ryan Zamarripa and Lorena Roque examine the economic situation of Latinos over the course of the pandemic. Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Latino workers not only disproportionately work in sectors where consumer spending has dropped the most—including restaurants and hotels and entertainment and recreation—but they are also less likely to hold managerial positions in these fields, which means that they often work for lower wages with less job stability and fewer benefits.
  • Latino workers suffered worse initial labor market losses at the start of the pandemic and were slower to recover than their white counterparts. The Latino unemployment rate increased by 14.2 percentage points between February 2020 and April 2020 compared with a 10.8 percentage-point increase for non-Hispanic white workers. As of January 2021 the Latino unemployment rate was still 4.2 percentage points higher than in February 2020, while that of non-Hispanic white workers was only 2.5 percentage points higher.
  • The pandemic is exacerbating the Latino-white wealth gap. Between Q4 2019 and Q4 2020, Latino workers saw their median weekly earnings increase at a rate of 2.9 percent, slower than that of workers overall.
  • Latinos have been disproportionately experiencing food and housing insecurity compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
  • Latina women have faced the worst economic outcome of any racial/ethnic and gender group. Latina women have seen the highest unemployment rate of any group—20.1 percent in April 2020. As of January 2021, more than 1 million fewer Hispanic or Latina women were employed compared with pre-pandemic levels.

The brief also suggests ways that policymakers can support Latino Americans, including by prioritizing a more equitable vaccine rollout, providing support for struggling renters and homeowners, extending federal unemployment benefits, and providing support for undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.

“Latinos have undoubtedly been disproportionately harmed by both the public health and economic crises of the past year,” said Ryan Zamarripa, associate director of Economic Policy at CAP. “As Congress negotiates the next economic rescue plan, they should ensure that Latinos are not left behind. Policies such as funding programs that ensure equitable vaccine distribution, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and ensuring that undocumented workers are included in the next and all relief packages would not only help the country as a whole, but also help the Latino community recover more quickly from the crisis.”

Read: “Latinos Face Disproportionate Health and Economic Impacts From COVID-19” by Ryan Zamarripa and Lorena Roque

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].