By Julene Reese
As the diversity of the state increases, it can bring disparities between minority groups and the White population in terms of education, housing and health outcomes. Information that aids in understanding the status and conditions within all social and identity groups, including race and ethnicity, is crucial to help local and state decision-makers address current needs.
The Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) created a series of research reports to help understand the experiences of Utah women and girls. This report focuses on Hispanic or Latina women in Utah and is the fourth of five reports. Researchers used the U.S. Census description for “Hispanic” or “Latinx,” which is “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.”
Susan Madsen, founding director of the UWLP and one of three report authors, said researchers collected data in five areas for the report: general demographics, health, basic needs, education, and income and employment.
“Using these data to create policies that support all Utah residents, including Latina women, can strengthen Utah’s workplaces, educational institutions, communities and the state as a whole,” she said.
Health – Latinas in Utah are less likely to have health insurance (67.0%) than other Utah women (88.8%). Further, they have less access to medical care, with 20% of Latinas reporting they forgo medical care due to cost. The birth rate per 1,000 Latinas in Utah is 17.8, above the rate of 10.6 for other Utah women. Utah Latinas fare slightly better in mental health outcomes than Utah women generally. They are less likely to report poor mental health (20.1% vs. 23.6% of all Utah women) or receive a diagnosis of a major depressive disorder.
Basic Needs – Internet access is critical for information, services and education. Unfortunately, 8.4% of Utah Latinas report having no internet access at home compared to 5.1% of other Utah women. Regarding safety, Latinas reported slightly more concern about the onset or increase of violence at home since the pandemic began (11.4% or 21 of 183 women indicating concern) versus White women (8.7% or 228 of 2,621 indicating concern). The Utah Office for Victims of Crime reported that of individuals who applied for crime victim reparations between 2019 and 2021, 81.6% were women. Of those, 14.7% were Latina.
Education – According to the 5-Year U.S. Census Microdata, Utah Latinas are more likely to end their high school education without a diploma (25% vs. 7.1% of all Utah women), and they earn bachelor’s degrees at much lower rates than all Utah women (13.2% vs. 29.0%).
Income – While Latinas in Utah have a higher labor force participation rate compared to other Utah women (66.8% vs. 61.7%), the median personal income for Utah Latinas ($16,480) is lower than the median for Utah women generally ($19,245), which mirrors national trends. Similarly, the median personal wage of Latinas in Utah is slightly lower than for all Utah women ($24,056 vs. $28,374) and significantly lower for household income ($53,665 vs. $70,838).
Occupation – The most significant disparities were in professional positions, with Latina women at 10.1% and other Utah women at 22.1%. In the service and maintenance industries, Latina women were 42%, and other Utah women were 24.3%. The Women’s Business Center of Utah reports that Latinas make up 11% of their women clients. Nationally, firms owned by Latinas grew 26% between 2014 and 2019.
“As the state continues to become more diverse, it is critical that we focus on all women of color,” said Jessica C. Hill, a report author from Utah Valley University. “As we provide greater access and opportunity to all residents, the state can use these data to better use the talents, ideas and resources Latina women offer the state, employers and Utah families.”
Marin Christensen, research associate for the UWLP, is an additional report author. To see the full report, including references, click here. For further information on UWLP programs and projects, visit utwomen.org.