National Hispanic American Heritage Month spans from September 15 through October 15 and, as a part of this month of recognition, we asked ourselves at Betterment for Business: What are the unique challenges facing Latinx-American employees today? How can we learn about these challenges and address them as a part of our ongoing effort to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Betterment?
It turns out that not only do Latinx-Americans—the largest ethnic group in the U.S.—have disproportionately low retirement savings, but they also have disproportionately low access to savings. Plus gender and age also play a factor.
For employers committed to building out a financial wellness program that helps all employees, understanding the intersectional issues and how Latinx employees have unique needs and challenges is key. In this article, we’ll cover three important learnings that can help inform your wellness programs, and build support for Latinx employees during this National Hispanic American Heritage Month and beyond.
Latinx Employee Savings Lag Behind White Employees
According to a 2018 report by Unidos US and the National Institute of Retirement Security, “four out of five Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings, compared to one out of two White households.”
And when comparing otherwise similar White and Latino households, researchers also found that “69% of working Latinos do not own any assets in a retirement account, compared to 37% of White households.”
When Latino families are saving for retirement, they are saving significantly less money than their White counterparts. That said, younger Latinxs are eager to save. For example, they are 25% more likely to own an investment property than non-Hispanic White households, according to the Hispanic Wealth Project.
Encourage Latinx employees to continue to diversify their investments and to set aside retirement savings in addition to their other assets—especially if you offer an employer-sponsored match that can help them reach their goals even faster.
Access to Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans is Also an Issue
For Latinx-Americans, access to retirement-sponsored retirement plans is “significantly” lower than it is for White workers. Overall, about 31% of Latinx workers participate in a retirement plan, compared to 53% of White workers.
But, to put this into further context, when Latinxs have access and are eligible to participate in a plan, “they show slightly higher take-up rates when compared to other races and ethnicities.”
In other words, when a retirement plan is offered, Latinxs are more likely to take advantage, but they are significantly less likely to have that access in the first place.
As such, Latinx-Americans, particularly younger populations, feel the pressure of providing a social safety net to their families and loved ones. They are 77% more likely to live in multi-generational households than non-Hispanic White households and, when surveyed, one half agreed that it was more important to help friends and family members now than to save for their own retirement.
It is important to offer a full-picture financial wellness solution that helps to address the unique needs of Latinx workers, which can include planning for the retirement of their loved ones or investing in additional real estate for their growing families.
Older Women are Disproportionately Affected
More than one in five Latinx women over the age of 65 live in poverty. And without the income from work, this population would not be able to meet the cost of basic living expenses.
Separately, Black and Latinx women make up a disproportionate share of domestic workers, with Latinx women making up over 29% of domestic workers as compared to only 17% of all other workers. Only 19% of domestic workers have access to health or retirement benefits, compared to 49% of other workers.
COVID-19 exacerbated this disparity. According to the UN, domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID-19 globally, causing 46% of Latinx survey respondents (compared to 42% of non-Hispanic Whites) to draw from their savings to cover expenses since the beginning of the pandemic.
Consider your employee population and how factors like the pandemic may have affected them and the members of their household. Offer financial planning services and remind them that it’s never too late to get started with their savings, debt repayment, or other financial goals.