Latinos receive low
wages despite increased job market
7/6/04 by Rob Vicevich (Brigham Young U.)
PROVO, Utah -- Four years
ago, Angela Acosta arrived in Utah from Argentina looking
for a better future. Acosta had always been able to find a
decent job, but it was not easy to pay monthly bills with
her low income. When she first arrived in Utah more
than five years ago, Acosta worked almost 40 hours a week
in a factory getting $6.15 an hour.
Later she took another job as a dishwasher at a care center
for 24 hours a week to the tune of $200.
"It is not fair to do the same job as other people and receive
less just because we are Latinos," Acosta said. "Latinos
usually work in those jobs that many Americans wouldn't."
A national labor report recently found the Latinos' job market
increased but wages remained the same, especially for those
who just arrived in the United States. Latinos are helping to
recover the U.S. labor market, but unfortunately, the hiring
flow has not translated into wage increase.
According to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center based on
research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, weekly earnings
for Hispanics and most other workers remain the same while
wages for Caucasians have the tendency to increase.
The report said median weekly wage for Latinos has decreased
in all except one of the past eight quarters. As a
consequence, median wages for Latinos have not only slipped
backwards on an absolute basis but also in comparison to the
national median wage.
"Companies that hire Latinos usually pay them between $7 or $8
per hour and to U.S. citizens they pay for the same job $12
per hour," said Juan Gutierrez, spokesman for American G.I.
Forum in Ogden. "The solution would be to report these
injustices to local authorities."
Gutierrez said he thinks the reason Latinos are paid less than
Caucasians is because they arrive in America as illegal
residents and cannot demand a wage increase with that status.
Employment opportunities for Hispanic workers increased
significantly in three out of four quarters for a total gain
of approximately 750,000 new jobs, according to the report.
The flow of jobs is a consequence of growth in the U.S.
economy with Latino workers obtaining more jobs than was
predicted, based on their ratio of Hispanic workers to workers
of other ethnicities.
"Personally, I don't think there is a job increase for
Latinos," said Jorge Arce-Larreta, director of Utah Coalition
La Raza for Hispanics. "Latinos still work in hotels and fast
food restaurants getting paid less than other ethnicities."
In 2003, the almost 700,000 Hispanics in the labor force were
high in comparison to the number of non-Hispanics.