Care and domestic workers have been among the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In a matter of weeks, almost 70% of nannies, housekeepers, and home care workers lost their jobs.
These job losses affected Latina women more than any other group. A UCLA study found that, from march 2020 to march 2021, 2.7% of Latina workers dropped out of the labor market, almost twice the rate of white women.
In the United States, there are more than 2 million domestic workers; almost 92% are women, and the majority are black, Latin, and Asian women, often born outside of the country. However, Latina women make up 29.1% of the caregiving workforce of the entire country.
At the highest point of the pandemic, more than 2.5 million women abandoned the workforce; vice-president Kamala Harris called it “a national emergency.”
The struggle that the pandemic has represented for Latin women in the U.S., but reminds us that this is reflection of a historical problem of gender discrimination.
Historically, domestic work is considered a reproductive work, I mean, women are responsible of doing it. It is not recognized as a real work, although it definitively has an economic value.
Because it wasn’t considered real work, it also got excluded from most labor laws that were supposed to strengthen worker protection.
On average, domestic workers are paid 12.01 dollars per hour, much less than other workers (paid $19.97 per hour). Compared with demographically similar workers, domestic workers, on average, are paid just 74 cents for every dollar their peers make.
This is why caregiving labor is considered undervalued. But the problem is not only related to the wage gap. Other labor issues affect Latin women who work in caregiving.
Many domestic worker’s rights are not recognized, they’re low-paid, they lack breaks, and they are not paid overtime or provided with health insurance.
However, there are efforts driven by Latin women focusing on changing how caregiving is seen in the U.S.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the relevance of caregiving workers and, specifically, the vital role that Latin women have in the economy of the United States”.
Suppose the United States wants to achieve an economic recovery. In that case, we must support caregiving Latin women, stand up beside them and fight for more states to recognize their rights as an essential labor force.