Women of color need a raise. A new report released by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) provides comprehensive analysis about the gender wage gap between women of color and White men. Women are rapidly becoming the primary wage earners in the majority of American households, and Black families are no different. Black women, of course, have been working full time in larger numbers than White women for years, be they partnered or single.
The report analyzes the wages of women working full time and finds that, on average, women are paid only 77 cents to the dollar paid to their male counterparts. Unsurprisingly, the gap deepens when you consider race; Black women are only paid 64 cents to the dollar paid to White men doing the same job, while Latinas were only paid 54 cents to the White male dollar.
Despite a growing belief that Black women are vastly outearning Black men, the report finds that to be false. Black and Latina women are still paid less than their male counterparts, as well as White women. The NWLC reports that, “The typical [Black] woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 83 cents for every dollar paid to her White, non-Hispanic female counterpart. The gap is larger for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are paid just 69 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic female counterparts. The typical African-American woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 88 cents for every dollar paid to her African-American male counterpart. The gap is the same for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are also paid 88 cents for every dollar paid to their Hispanic male counterparts.”
The wage gap translates into real money over time. In 2012, a Black woman could expect a loss of $18,650. The yearly loss is $24,111 for Latinas. Over the course of a lifetime, the gender wage gap could mean that the difference in lifetime earnings between White men and Black and Latina women could surpass $1 million dollars. That’s nothing to sneeze and and evidence that the lack of legislation prohibiting wage discrimination against women they will lose money that is rightfully theirs, that they have earned. Women working the same job as a man should be paid the same amount, there is no logical or legal argument otherwise.
The gender wage gap impacts women on all parts of the income spectrum, including those performing low wage jobs, i.e. the healthcare workers, maids and other service professions that are majority women of color. The NWLC report says "[a] woman working full time, year round at the current federal minimum wage will be paid just $14,500 annually.” This puts 40% of women of color in low wage jobs below the poverty line.
The framework for this analysis of the gender wage gap broken down by race comes on the heels of the worst recession since the Great Depression and women of color were impacted incredibly hard. The economic downturn makes moving up the socioeconomic ladder nearly impossible for women of color, particularly if they are not paid the same as men doing the same work. This inequality is impacting millions of American families and unfortunately, there are no signs of Congressional action on pay equity on the horizon.