Study: Black Women Make Only 64 Cents for Every Dollar White Men Earn

Erin C.J. Robertson
Generic image

It’s been 50 years to the month since Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was introduced, making employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex and national origin” illegal and paving the way for equal-employment opportunity for everyone, right? Wrong.

For women of color, especially black women, inequality in pay, compared with white men and women hired to do the same job at the workplace, is still a significant problem.


The National Women’s Law Center released a study (pdf) that highlights that black women still make significantly less than their white male peers in the same jobs and positions.

According to the study, black women can expect to make only 64 cents for every dollar white men earn. Compare that with the 77 cents American women overall who work full time make for every dollar white men earn.

This economic disparity touches every industry, from medicine to customer service. For example, the study’s fact sheet reveals that black women who are physicians and surgeons make slightly more than 50 cents for every dollar their white male colleagues earn. In the customer-service industry—a midwage, female-dominated field—black women can expect to earn 79 cents for every dollar white men earn.

Such a gap in pay adds up to a loss of $18,650 a year, meaning that a black woman has to work an additional seven months to match the salary her white male counterpart earns in a work year.


The study’s researchers noted that black women were overrepresented in low-wage jobs, and this particularly held true for those without a college degree.

For black women who hold a bachelor’s degree, they can still expect to earn only two-thirds of what their white male peers in the same fields were paid. In fact, black women with a bachelor’s degree usually make $46,000—that’s about $3,500 more than white men with only a high school diploma. This wage gap persists at every level of educational attainment, according to the study.


Furthermore, the study found that the pay gap was more pronounced for black women as they age. Black women ages 15 to 24 could expect to make 82 cents for every dollar white men earn, but that amount drops to 59 cents for black women ages 45 to 64.

The wage gap was especially stark in Louisiana and Wyoming, with black women in those states earning slightly less than 50 cents on the dollar compared with white men.


In addition, the nation’s capital came in fourth for the largest pay gap, with a shocking 44 cents on the dollar.

The reality of this inconsistency in pay comes shortly after the release earlier this year of the Truths You Won’t Believe video, which asserts that black women are the most educated group in the United States. Noting that, the wage gap of black women makes the burden of repaying student loans all the more real.


The NWLC survey’s data was sourced from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey and focuses on full-time, year-round employees.

Read more at Equal Pay for African American Women (pdf).

Share This Story

Get our newsletter