WASHINGTON - For many Latino families, mothers are the sole breadwinners. And the economic recession has made an already challenging situation worse for them.
The Great Recession has forced 1.3 million women into part time or part year employment, according to 2009 Census data that the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR). In the same year, the number of female heads of households increased by 360,000.
This means that women who are trying to keep their families afloat are sinking under the weight of inadequate earnings or unemployment. This situation is hitting Latinas hard.
Prior to the recession, Latina workers were already at the bottom of the barrel in comparison to women of other racial groups. In New York State, Latinas fare the worst among women in terms of earnings, often because they are concentrated in low-paying sectors that tend to be non-unionized.
Considering the high rates of single female heads of households in New York City, there are several issues that must be addressed.
In situations in which couples are separated but have children together, fathers must take full responsibility for supporting children. This is clearly a challenge in an economy that is leaving both men and women out of jobs.
On a policy level, parents need support with increasing their earning capacity. Towards this, the City University of New York should always be a parent-friendly environment. And the implementation of reforms to the GED system is critical to creating a gateway to higher education and training.
New York already has 1.5 million people living in poverty and others moving close to it. An aggressive response to the women trying to put their best foot forward for their children would pave a better future for our city.