Hispanic Heritage Month: Building Financial Security through the Latina Savings Project

September 25, 2018 – Half a century ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the nation’s first formal recognition of Latino/Latina culture, history, and contributions by declaring Hispanic Heritage Week in the United States. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the importance of this celebration by expanding it to a full month, from September 15th through October 15th. Today, nearly 59 million people in the U.S. – over 18% of the total population – are of Hispanic origin.[1]

As we honor the extraordinary cultural and historic contributions of Hispanic Americans and Latinos/Latinas, however, it’s important to acknowledge the many social and economic barriers that exist – particularly for Latinas. For example:

*  Nearly one in three (30.9%) Latinas works in service occupations, which traditionally are lower paid;[2]

*  A Latina worker earns just 53 cents for every dollar earned by a White man[3]

*  Roughly two-thirds (65%) of Latinas work for employers that don’t sponsor retirement savings plans[4]

*  Just one in five Latinas is covered by a private pension[5]

*  Almost three-fifths (58%) of Latinas have no retirement income from savings and assets.[6]

The result? Nearly one in five (19.8%) of Latinas aged 65 and over lives in poverty.[7]

And, because Latinas age 65+ have longer life expectancies than the majority of the U.S. population, they are likely to experience worse poverty, for a longer period, than most other Americans. Retirement planning is important for all of us, and it is especially essential for Latinas.

The Latina Savings Project

That is why WISER is collaborating with MANA—A National Latina Organization on the Latina Savings Project. With funding from the AARP Foundation, the demonstration project is designed to support low- and moderate-income Latinas in developing a habit of saving for retirement through education and hands-on access to savings accounts. WISER and MANA are partnering with community-based Latina organizations in Baytown, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Topeka, Kansas, with plans to expand to other communities.

The project helps participants open savings accounts and begin to contribute what they can afford, with added opportunities for matched savings contributions. The project also provides culturally-specific workshops that focus on the importance of saving and offer practical advice about how to get started.

The goal of the project is to help improve the long-term financial security for its participants. Ideally, a successful outcome will help jump-start other efforts to increase Latinas’ retirement savings. More information about the project will be available soon at www.wiserwomen.org.

[1] https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2018/hispanic-heritage-month.html

[2] https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

[3] https://iwpr.org/publications/gender-wage-gap-2017/

[4] WISER, “Latinas and Retirement: Just the Facts”

[5] WISER, “Latinas and Retirement: Just the Facts”

[6] WISER, “Latinas and Retirement: Just the Facts”

[7] https://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Poverty-Snapshot-Factsheet-2017.pdf

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