April 9 is Equal Pay Day –the day more than three months into the year when women’s wages finally catch up to what men were paid in the previous year. In “honor” of the occasion National Women’s Law Center is releasing fresh data and analysis on the persistent wage gap between men and women.
This is also a big birthday year – something actually worth celebrating – the Equal Pay Act turns 50 in June! But on the eve of that happy occasion, here’s another downer: As reported in The Wage Gap by State for Women Overall, 50 years in, the wage gap is still going strong all across the U.S.
Since 1963, when the Equal Pay Act became law, we’ve narrowed the wage gap by only 18 cents, and in the last ten years that gap hasn’t closed at all. For the last decade, the median annual earnings of women have lagged behind men – women working full time, year round have made roughly 77 cents for every dollar made by men working full time, year round. We’ve still got a whopping 23 cents to go before we close the wage gap. Even if the wheels of progress were to start turning again today, if we only close the gap another 18 cents in the next 50 years, we’ve got 64 years before the wage gap closes.
For women of color the wage gap is even larger. In Changing the Wage Gap is Crucial for Women and Families, we note that African-American women and Hispanic women working full-time, year-round make only 64 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. And even though women overall do better in some states than others, in almost every state and in Washington, D.C. women of color fare worse than women overall. Indeed, in some states women of color made only half what white, non-Hispanic men working full-time year-round made. To find out how African-American women and Hispanic women are faring in your state, check out the Wage Gap by State for African-American Women and The Wage Gap by State for Hispanic Women.
The wage gap hits women and families of all different stripes. In, How the Wage Gap Hurts Women and Families, we highlight the impact of the wage gap on women and their families. With an additional $11,084 each year, women could pay the median cost of rent and utilities for one year and one month or feed a family of four for a year and half. We also discuss the impact of the wage gap on particular groups of women including single women, lesbian women, women with disabilities, and older women.
For those of you who are scratching your heads asking – “what’s causing this nasty wage gap and what ought to be done about it?” – Explaining the Wage Gap discusses factors that contribute to the wage gap such as discrimination and racial disparities; occupational segregation and the devaluation of women’s work; and women’s greater responsibilities for caregiving and the economic hardship this imposes on women. It also provides a short list of actions that need to be taken so that the wage gap doesn’t outlive us all – from strengthening our equal pay laws by prohibiting retaliation against employees for discussing their pay to raising the minimum wage and providing robust opportunities for women and girls to train for and enter into high-wage, non-traditional jobs.
We hope NWLC’s Equal Pay Day materials provide advocates and policymakers with resources they can use to make equal pay a reality for working women and their families.
Every Dollar Matters.
Every Woman Matters.
The Wage Gap Matters.