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The Center for Research on Women and Gender partnered with Mujeres Latinas en Accion, the longest-standing Latina organization in the country, on their latest “Latina Portrait” annual policy report. This year’s report focused on economic security. CRWG Assistant Director Veronica Arreola wrote the introduction to the report and attended the report release press conference in September.

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The study found that Latin@s* are overrepresented in Chicago’s low-wage workforce. While they make up 26% of the city’s population, 42% of low-wage workers are Latin@. Undocumented Latin@s are most at risk for living in poverty. Due to their status, undocumented Latinas often must choose undesirable low-wage work or informal work in which they cannot fight for better pay or working conditions due to threat of being fired or deported. These low-wage industries also often expose Latinas to exploitation from supervisors. Undocumented Latin American women are at an increased risk of experiencing wage theft or being paid less than minimum wage, as well as sexual violence. This situation has local implications, as women comprise nearly half of the undocumented population in Illinois.

The impact of low-wage work on Latinas is exemplified by the monthly cost of childcare in Illinois, which can total $1,469, while a full-time minimum wage earner will make just $1,430 a month. The high cost of child care may keep Latinas in low-wage work because it limits the type of work they can do, in attempt to minimize childcare costs.

The “Latina Portrait” did not just paint a bleak state of affairs. It ends with a number of policy recommendations including raising the minimum wage, establishing earned sick-time, and creating a domestic workers bill of rights. Recommendations for action are detailed for allies who work in local government, labor and service organizations, and academia.

To read the full report, visit Mujeres Latinas en Accion and click on “Latina Portrait: Latinas and Economic Security.”

*Using Latin@ instead of “Latino” recognizes both Latinos and Latinas. For this Latina Portrait, Latin@ was used to differentiate between Latin@s of all genders and when just talking about Latina women.