Latina women face unemployment challenges amid COVID-19

This report is part of “Turning Point,” a groundbreaking month-long series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

But that’s not the only change Sandra’s family has faced in recent months. Both she and her husband, a former house painter, unexpectedly lost their jobs.

“We both lost our source of income,” said Sandra, who asked to be identified by only her first name. “[The job loss] has affected us emotionally, I’m stressed, we can’t sleep.”

She also searches for new employment opportunities and works part-time cleaning homes when she can book a gig. The calls, however, are scarce.

“It’s hard to work part-time because [my kids] need assistance,” said Sandra. “I have to sit with them and help them with online classes.”

PHOTO: Sandra pictured alongside her two children in Portland, Ore.

Sandra is pictured alongside her two children in Portland, Ore.

Sandra, a native of Guatemala, said she immigrated to the U.S. in the hopes of providing a better life for her loved ones. Escaping violence and a lack of economic opportunity, she created a new home in Portland, Oregon.

“I was working in housekeeping in a hotel as my first job,” said Sandra. “After, I went to work in a barbecue restaurant part-time … [the customers] spoke English and I was afraid because I didn’t speak the language, so I couldn’t respond to them.”

The language barrier was difficult to overcome. Ultimately she sought other employment opportunities and within months Sandra landed a new job cleaning office buildings. The hours, however, were long.

A few years later, Sandra became a housekeeper providing cleaning services to a regular list of clients, which provided better pay and more flexible hours to care for her children.

But when COVID-19 struck, she could no longer work in those homes.

Now, the drastic loss in household income has made it difficult for her family to make ends meet.

Latina unemployment rates spike amid COVID-19

The unemployment rate rose sharply for Hispanic workers, particularly among Hispanic women, amid COVID-19, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center in August. It found that the unemployment rate for Hispanics increased from 4.8% in February to a peak of 18.5% in April before dropping to 14.5% in June.

Pew Research data show that Hispanic women have experienced an especially steep