If the average black woman saved all her pay from 2016 and combined it with every penny she had earned through July 2017, the total would equal just what the average white man earned in 2016 alone.
July 31 is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. According to the Economic Policy Institute—a nonpartisan think tank focused on including low- and middle-income workers in economic-policy discussions—black women’s salaries are in the unique intersection of race and gender. Even after controlling for education, location and experience, black women are paid 67 cents for every dollar a non-Hispanic white man is paid.
While there are numerous studies that demonstrate the racial pay gap, as well as the inequities between what women earn compared with their male counterparts, the differences are diminishing in almost every category except one: black women.
In 1979, even though there was a large gender pay gap, black women earned roughly the same amount as white women. During the intervening 37 years, progress slowed substantially for black women. In 2016, white women earned 76 percent of what white men earned, while black women’s average earnings were 9 points lower.
The numbers even account for the fact that black women work harder. They also dispel the notion that the pay gap exists because single black moms don’t work as many hours and therefore bring down the average salary figures: The study found that married black women with children worked the most hours of any demographic, while still seeing no decrease in the pay gap. According to the report:
In 2015, married black women with children worked over 200 hours more per year than married white or Hispanic women with children, and 339 hours more than black single mothers. Married black working moms also worked 132 hours more per year than childless non-elderly black working women.
Black women work harder and longer but are paid less money.
There are people who say this wage gap is because of the kinds of careers black women choose. Teachers, retail workers and other typical “woman” jobs often pay less, so this should explain the income disparity, right?
Even with the same occupation and education as their white, male co-workers, black women are routinely paid less, according to the study.
How do we combat this trend? There are three important initiatives that could erase these disturbing statistics:
- Increase the minimum wage: The biggest disparity in wage earnings occurs at the lowest levels of pay. Raising the minimum wage to $15 would affect more than 25 percent of black female workers.
- Support pay transparency: Most women aren’t aware that they are being lowballed by employers because they can’t compare their salaries with those of their male counterparts. The Paycheck Fairness Act would reduce this kind of secrecy.
- Stop being racist: I know it’s hard, but can we at least give it a try?
Read more at the Economic Policy Institute.