Labor Day is meant to be a day of celebration, marking the contributions made by all working people in the U.S.—but for women, it’s a reminder of how far we remain from full equality.
Women make up 47% of the labor force and are the sole breadwinners in 40% of families with children—and yet, the wage gap between working women and men persists in nearly every occupation.
Despite civil rights laws and advancements in women’s economic status, workplace discrimination still persists. For women of color, this inequity can be devastating. According to the National Women’s Law Center, African American women working full-time are paid 64 cents for every dollar a man earns, and Latina women are paid 56 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Women remain segregated into jobs where they are underpaid and undervalued. Women make up 95% of the workforce in industries considered “women’s work,” such as home care, child care, and housekeeping—yet most workers in these fields lack basic employment protections enjoyed by workers in other fields. And women are particularly vulnerable to an artificially low minimum wage that puts their families at risk.
Labor Day won’t be a holiday that’s truly worth celebrating until the gender pay gap is erased, the minimum wage is raised to at least $15, paid parental leave is universal and parents have access to subsidized childcare.
Until then, Labor Day will remain just another day for shopping and barbecues.