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You Should Be Ticked Off By the Wage Gap for Some Women of Color

Last week, the Census Bureau released national and state data on poverty, income, and health insurance in 2016. Our initial analysis shows some positive news: poverty rates declined slightly, median income grew 3.2 percent, and the percentage of those without insurance continues to decline thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But despite that positive news, we are still incredibly troubled by our findings on the wage gap.

The typical woman continues to be paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart. This 80-cent gap translates into a loss of more than $10,000 every single year, or more than $400,000 over a 40-year career. I don’t know about you, but I bet women and their families can think of a lot of things they’d like to do with that kind of money.

And if the overall wage gap isn’t enough to shock and appall, allow me to show you what women of color make for every dollar white, non-Hispanic men make:

Black women are paid just 63 cents and Native women just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. While Asian women fare somewhat better, making 87 cents for every dollar made by white, non-Hispanic men, many subgroups of Asian women experience wider wage gaps. As for Latinas like me, like my mother, we’re paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

Although millions of women of color work tirelessly to support their families, they’ll lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, or in some cases, more than a million dollars, to the sexist and racist gender wage gap over the course of their careers. In order to catch up to what white, non-Hispanic men have typically made by age 60, Black, Native, and Latina women would have to work decades longer – into their 80s or even 90s.

I want you to know: I checked these numbers twice. And then I asked someone else to check them twice. There are no typos: women are losing monumental amounts of money because of unequal pay. And because the wage gap has barely budged since 2007, we need to do everything we can to close it, because women of color shouldn’t have to work until the day they die just to be paid equally.

It's time for change, and we must act now. Time's up.