WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today’s Equal Pay Day marks how far into the year women must work to be paid what men were paid on December 31st of the previous year. This date highlights a wage gap based on a ratio of median annual earnings for all women as compared to the median for all men: the wage gap for all women in 2019 was 18.5 percent. But the wage gap for women among racial and ethnic groups is quite different.
Looking at the ratio of women’s to men’s median weekly earnings for full-time workers in 2019, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, reveal a significant variation between
- Latina women are paid 56 cents to each dollar made by White, non-Hispanic men.
- While Hispanic men also have low earnings, Hispanic women face an added gender disparity, being paid 85.9 cents of Hispanic men’s dollar.
- Black women are paid 61.4 cents to the dollar as compared to White men.
- Black women are also being paid 91.5 cents of every dollar Black men make.
- White women are paid 78.4 cents of each dollar made by White men.
Asian American Women
- Asian-American women are paid 89.4 cents to the dollar made by White men.
- Asian-American women are also paid only 76.7 cents to each dollar that Asian-American men make.
- Even within these racial communities, there are other factors impacting women’s pay. In the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, for example, Vietnamese women are paid 67 cents to the dollar as compared to White men, and 80 cents to the dollar as compared to AAPI men within the same ethnic group.
Native American Women
- Native American women receive 57 cents to every dollar made by White men.
- There is a lack of data regarding pay gaps between Native American women and men, however, it is likely that this gap exists.
The narrowing of the gender pay gap has slowed to a near standstill in the last 10 years, shrinking by less than half a percentage point. If the pace of change stays steady, it will take until 2059 for women and men to reach parity, and much longer for women of color.
The gender pay gap hurts women, families, and our society at large. NOW is a longtime supporter of legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, first introduced nearly 20 years ago, which would take modest steps towards narrowing the gender pay gap. But what is needed is a strong equal pay ‘for substantially similar work’ law as several states have recently adopted.
These disparities must be addressed by state and federal governments and by employers, and we must be aware that wage disparity is not an isolated issue. Equal pay must be paired with access to paid sick leave, health care, a higher national minimum wage, and other critical protections. Especially now that the country is continuing to face the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic, women’s economic security is more important than ever.