Three years ago, Latinas disappeared from the workforce. One in 5 were out of work in April 2020, the highest unemployment of any group of women — ever — at a time when women were losing jobs at an unprecedented rate. And yet Latinas have already marshaled a recovery that has outpaced most of their counterparts, hitting new historic highs just years out from historic lows.

Their unemployment rate now hovers at 4.4 percent, lower than even pre-pandemic levels. The share of Latinas ages 25 to 54, what is known as the prime-age working group, who are working or actively seeking work was 71.7 percent in August, just shy of the previous high they hit in June. And in terms of sheer numbers, about a million more Latinas are in the workforce today than in February 2020, before the economic downturn even began.

“Their recovery seems to have skyrocketed. Their labor force participation rates are currently at probably the highest levels they’ve ever been,” said Marie Mora, interim provost and a professor of economics at Metropolitan State University of Denver and an expert on Latinas in the workforce.

The bounce back has just as much to do with what is happening in the economy as what is happening in households.

Latinas make up about one-third of the service industry workforce, the sector that includes hospitality, health care and education jobs, which hemorrhaged positions when the pandemic began. No industry was hit as hard as hospitality, which lost about half of all its jobs in early 2020.

Latinas also take on more caregiving responsibilities than just about any group, so when care needs were high at the start of the outbreak, they left work. Now many are returning to work because those jobs sustain their families.

“It’s more than just saying they are in sectors that are recovering. Even in terms of their ability and willingness to participate in the labor force is picking up with trends …  It’s very encouraging to look at the numbers,” Mora said. “There is a part of me that feels relieved.”

It’s an economic recovery that has flown under the radar and that few have studied, experts said. Economists are just now starting to analyze what is driving it.

Read the full article about Latinas return to the workforce by Chabeli Carrazana at The19th.