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Latina Buying food at the supermarket

Why Latino economic power is greater than political representation

Despite new reports on the increasing Latino economic power –their buying power, insertion in the labor force, and their role as the backbone of Social Security–, the part Hispanics play in the United States’ political arena is still minimal.

Latina Buying food at the supermarket Latino economic power

Latinas make 85% of purchasing decisions in the home

Latinos are the nation’s second largest and fastest growing population group and electorate; however, we are still behind in representation. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) reports that 24. 8 million Latinos who are eligible to vote are not registered.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanics will account for 75% of the nation’s labor force growth in the next decade. A population that is growing rapidly because of an increasing birth rate and is fed by constant immigration–although lessened in the last two years–, Hispanics in the United States are the labor force of the future.

Latino economic power and labor force

A first reason of this assessment is that the aging baby-boomers’ generation or non-Hispanic population entering Social Security massively will need the younger Latino labor force to carry for millions of their pensions. In addition, the non-Hispanic birthrate is slowing down at an alarming rate. White women are giving birth at a later age and to fewer children.

“A second important factor is that Hispanics have a higher labor force participation rate than other groups. The nation’s labor force participation rate—that is, the share of the population ages 16 and older either employed or looking for work—was 64.7% in 2010. Among Hispanics, the rate was 67.5%. There are two main explanations for this gap: Hispanics are a younger population than other groups, and include a higher share of immigrants”, concludes Rakesh Kochhar.

These figures were extracted from the 2010-2020 BLS projections for the U.S. labor force. The report indicates that growth in America will slow overall, while the rest of the world’ labor force —especially in the Asian markets—is growing at a frantic rate. “Hispanics are expected to add 7.7 million workers to the labor force while the number of non-Hispanic whites in the labor force is projected to decrease by 1.6 million.”

The labor force movement should acknowledge this increased role of Latinos as an opportunity for their political participation in the next decades, and act accordingly.

“Latinos need the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively —which means they need the Employee Free Choice Act,” said Gabriela Lemus, executive director of Progressive Congress. She is the former executive director of the Labor Council of Latin American Advancement, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO & CTW. In 2008, she was elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), later becoming chair where she helped to establish progressive policies for the Latino civil rights movement.

Head Shot  Latino economic power

Gabriela Lemus

Latino economic power expected to grow

Although the number of employed Hispanics has increased from its lowest in 2009, Latino economic power is expected to continue growing as the relatively young population is increasing educational opportunities and moving up the social ladder.

By 2020, Latinos are expected to comprise 19 percent of the U.S. labor force. Women comprised 41 percent of all Latinos in the labor force in 2011, compared to 46 percent among the white labor force.

On the other hand, the Selig Center for Economic Growth reports that Latino economic power has gained momentum —as disposable income, or money that is available for spending after taxes—over the past decade at a staggering rate compared to other minorities.

“The Hispanic market alone, at $1 trillion, is larger than the entire economies of all but 14 countries in the world–smaller than the GDP of Canada but larger than the GDP of Indonesia,” Jeffrey M. Humphreys, director of the center, notes.

“The ten states with the largest Hispanic markets, in order, are California ($265 billion), Texas ($176 billion), Florida ($107 billion), New York ($81 billion), Illinois ($44 billion), New Jersey ($39 billion), Arizona ($34 billion), Colorado ($22 billion), New Mexico ($20 billion), and Georgia ($17 billion),” says the report, which brings up the issue of political representation.

What can be done  to encourage those who are not citizens yet to acquire their citizenship, and those who are, to participate in the electoral process? It must be our very first priority if we ever want to achieve economic and political power, and make our voices count.

 

Working Latinas and gender diversity in the workplace

Are US laws protecting breastfeeding moms?

Liz breastfeeding her son Christopher

Liz breastfeeding her son Christopher

By Liz Chang

Bilingual English and Spanish Certified Lactation Counselor

Founder and CEO at Pretty Mama Breastfeeding LLC

As an specialist that have researched the topic, I’m going to try to lay it out for you so you know a little bit more about what you have going for you. There are only a few specific sources of protection that parents and breastfeeding women have in their pockets:

The first is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act from title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It basically states that discrimination based on pregnancy is illegal sex discrimination. Courts have sadly used this position to rule both ways, to support and encourage pregnant women in the workplace as well as to deny protection for breastfeeding women due to the fact that pregnancy is a choice as is breastfeeding and it is not a ‘medical need’ or a disability in need of protection.

  • The second is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. This is what gives the up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, as well as care of ill children. This only applies to employers with 50+ employees and is only unpaid leave which the majority of employees cannot afford. Even though the World Health Organization among others supports the fact that “exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond” (WHO, Breastfeeding) only this meager 12 weeks is offered to initiate this justifiable right of mothers.
  • The third is the Affordable Care Act’s Fair Labor Standards Act amended in 2010. It affords women the right to breastfeed or pump/express in the workplace with privacy and somewhere other than a bathroom. (The latter should go without saying!) Women are afforded this protection for the first year after a child is born. This also only applies to employers with 50+ employees, and each employee must meet the definition of a FLSA covered employee.

Do you want to see specific regulations about breastfeeding in your state? Visit National Conference for State Legislation Breastfeeding Laws.

 Does the U.S. fall short?

Why does it seem that we are falling short where we claim to have the highest value? According to recent polls, family is one of the most important topics to Americans. The problem isn’t with priorities; I feel it’s with perspectives. While we lump policies and laws together into sexual equality and antidiscrimination frameworks we won’t have any grounds for enforcement provisions that will hold up legally. Our society sees these issues through a medical model lens instead of a family perspective lens.

Because breastfeeding and childbearing are not seen as a medical “need”, new mothers and breastfeeding mothers do not get the protection they need, and these policies fall to the wayside. Until we align the incentives of young families with economic incentives of the workplace I fear there will be no change in the protection for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Seeing that breastfeeding and childbearing are integral to a strong society may be necessary to produce policy outcomes that will make the difference for every mother, not just that small percentage that qualify.

References:

Eichner, Maxine. International Breastfeeding Journal. Parenting in the workplace. 2008.

World Health Organization. Health Topics, Breastfeeding. 2014.

 

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