Women continue to face workplace challenges and discrimination

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (Pic via dol.gov)

African-American and Latina women, who now make up an important part of the U.S. workforce, face higher rates of poverty and unemployment than white and Asian working women.

The U.S. Department of Labor wrote Thursday: “On the same day last week that she announced that the economy created another 121,000 jobs in March, and that the unemployment rate ticked down, Secretary [Hilda] Solis joined President Obama at a White House event focused on ‘Women and the Economy.’”

The Department of Labor also released a report showing that despite important advances, women in the United States continue to face barriers to participation in the work- and marketplace.

The report, “Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward” (.pdf), states that women make up almost 50 percent of the workforce, own 30 percent of small businesses, but still make 77 cents for every dollar men make and have to pay more for their health care than men, and about 2 million women are victims of domestic violence each year.

Solis writes, ”Women—especially vulnerable women—have had to carry a heavy burden in our economic recovery. We must ensure that all women have the support they need to thrive and to avoid being thrust into poverty.”

While the unemployment rate in the U.S. fell .2 percent in March, African-American and Latina adult women still have higher rates of unemployment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March 2012 employment report, released last week.

The report indicates that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for adult women stood at 7.4 percent. When broken down by race the report shows that number jumps to 12.3 percent for African American women. The report also revealed that unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) for Hispanic women was 10 percent.

According to the report “Challenges and Conditions of the Latina Workers in the United States,” “in 2010, Latina women earned $508 in median weekly earnings and only earn a meager 60 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, representing the largest wage gap of any other group of working women.”

The report, released by the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement adds “in 2010, Women of Latino ethnicity earned $508 in median weekly earnings, compared to their African-American ($592), white ($684), and Asian ($773) counterparts.”

The Labor Council adds that “Latina working women represent 12.8 percent of women in the U.S. workforce and their jobs are among the most dangerous and least compensated in the nation.”

“Challenges and Conditions” also shows that 12 percent of Latinas and 12.7 percent of female African-American workers suffer from “high levels of poverty.”

The report also shows that in 2009 almost 30 percent of Latina women had no health insurance coverage while almost 11 percent non-Latina whites were uninsured.

The report adds that in the U.S. the “Latino community holds the highest percentage of people without health insurance; nearly one in three (32.4%) lack health insurance coverage compared to 21% of African-Americans, 17.2% of Asians, and 12% of non-Latino whites.”

Latina immigrants to the U.S. are also among the most vulnerable population, according to the report:

  • In 2011, 45 percent of all Latina immigrants in the U.S. were uninsured.
  • Some surveys also estimate that there could be up to 6 million undocumented Latinas.
  • Two million, or 37 percent, of non-citizen Latinas live in poverty. A majority of these women (55 percent) earn less than $15,000 a year.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all non-citizen Latinas were not covered by employment-based health care, compared to 42 percent of their naturalized equivalents.
  • Immigrant Latina women made less than half ($24,461) what the average non-Latino white male made ($49,643) in 2010.
  • Sexual assault allegations have been reported in nearly every U.S. immigration detention center.

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