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Latinos receive low wages despite increased job market
7/6/04 by Rob Vicevich (Brigham Young U.)

Latino workers

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.


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