December 10, 2021

A new study from the School’s Latino Center for Health reports that many Latinos and Latinas in Washington state are not able to meet their basic needs, including healthcare, food and housing.

The study found that, throughout the pandemic, the unemployment rate for Latinas, or Hispanic women, has risen more quickly than that for Latinos, or Hispanic men. At the start of the pandemic, Latinas left the workforce at twice the rate of Latinos. Eight months later, this disparity had doubled. In addition, Latinas left their jobs at a rate three times higher than white women and four times higher than Black women. In addition to experiencing high unemployment rates, new childcare responsibilities at home because of pandemic school closures forced many Latinas to leave the workforce.

As essential workers, many Latinos and Latinas have experienced significantly higher job loss, decreased work hours, and less work-related income, compared to whites. About 38% of respondents were currently unemployed, with 17% reporting they lost their job because of the pandemic. Nearly 45% reported they are not able to meet basic needs, and 53% said they worry every week about running out of food or not being able to pay the rent. Latinos are also impacted by large disparities in health insurance coverage, with 41% of those surveyed reporting they are uninsured. 

To address the economic impact and new caregiving responsibilities brought on by the pandemic, researchers at the Latino Center for Health recommend the following policy changes: 

  • Expand the federal unemployment benefits through pandemic unemployment assistance, emergency paid leave, and emergency family and medical leave. 
  • Increase the minimum wage and eliminate tipped minimum wage. 
  • Increase relief funding for childcare. 
  • Enhance worker rights and protections 
  • Provide support to undocumented Latino and Latina immigrants.

Released on December 6, 2021, the study is based on a survey of 363 individuals, out of a pool of 2,500 selected. Participants were primarily 31-50 years old (47%), married (53%), had a high school education or less (68%), and spoke Spanish (61%).   

The Latino Center for Health, based at the School of Social Work, operates in partnership with the UW schools of medicine and public health. The Center conducts community-engaged research through capacity building and partnerships with community stakeholders to promote the health and well-being of Latino communities in Washington state.