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This Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day, We Need to Close the Gap

Piggy Bank.

Today we observe Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day, marking the symbolic day this year to which Native American women have to work to catch up to the earnings of their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts last year. The wage gap is bad for all women, but it is even worse when we look specifically at Native American women and other women of color. Women in the United States who work full time, year round are typically paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, yet Native American women are paid only 58 cents for every dollar paid to their white male counterparts. The wage gap that Native American women face doesn’t’ just impact them; it also has damaging implications for their families. Research has found that two out of three Native American women are mothers and the primary breadwinners for their families, meaning that the wage gap these women experience has serious consequences for children and families across the country.

Thirteen states have wage gaps for Native American women that amount to over one million dollars in losses over a 40-year career. That is an unbelievably large number. But the five below have the largest gap- and do the most damage over a lifetime to a Native American Woman’s earnings.

States With the Worst Lifetime Wage Gap for Native Women:

#5: Virginia:

Native American women working in Virginia are typically paid $27,683 less than their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts, creating a lifetime wage loss of $1,107,320 over the course of their career.

#4: Texas:

The gap in Texas between Native American women’s yearly income and their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts is nearly as large as the state-$28,627- adding up to a lifetime income loss of $1,145,080 for Native American women.

#3: New Jersey:

Native American women in New Jersey typically make $43,029 a year compared to the $73,551 that their white, non-Hispanic, male counterparts make. The $30,522 difference between the two amounts to $1,220,880 in lifetime losses for Native American women over their careers.

#2: Delaware:

In Delaware, a white, non-Hispanic man’s annual income for the year is $54,784 while a Native American woman’s annual income is only $22,159, a difference of $32,589 that amounts to a lifetime loss of $1,303,560 for Native women in the state.

#1: California:

In California, the typical gap between Native American women and white, non-Hispanic men’s annual wages is $34,833 dollars, adding up to a whopping $1,395,320 in lifetime losses due to the wage gap.

These numbers are staggering and demonstrate the devastating effect the wage gap has on Native American women and their families. The worst overall gender wage gap in the nation is in Louisiana, where women overall working full time, year-round only make 65.3 cents for every dollar men make. In 37 states, including Louisiana, the wage gap for Native American women is even wider. So while the wage gap negatively impacts all women, today we acknowledge that Native American women in this country face an especially challenging road to equal pay and economic security. Join the National Women’s Law Center and our allies today on Twitter by using the hashtag #NativeWomenEqualPay during a Twitter storm at Noon Eastern Time. Let’s lift up the voices of Native American women around the country and stand in solidarity for today’s #NativeWomenEqualPay.