Mothers Lose $16,000 Annually to the Wage Gap, NWLC Analysis Shows

Wage gap data released in advance of Mother’s Equal Pay Day

(Washington, D.C.) While women in the U.S. who work full time, year round are typically paid just 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, the wage gap between working mothers and fathers is even larger. Mothers typically are paid only 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, which translates to a loss of $16,000 annually, according to new National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) analysis of Census data. The motherhood wage gap exists in every state and can mean mothers lose thousands of dollars more than the national figure: mothers do best in Maine, where they are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to fathers, and worst in Utah, where they are paid only 58 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

The NWLC analysis of mothers working full time, year round features a state-by-state ranking that shows how much less mothers overall are paid, as well as the specific wage gaps for mothers broken down by race and ethnicity in each state. NWLC released the analysis a week ahead of Mothers’ Equal Pay Day on May 30—marking the date to which a mother typically has to work to make as much as a father made the previous calendar year.

“In a month when we celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s clear that working moms need more than bouquets and homemade cards—they need equal pay,” said Emily Martin, NWLC General Counsel and Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice. “Families depend on women’s incomes, yet mothers, regardless of their education level, their age, where they live, or their occupation, are paid less than fathers. When mothers are shortchanged, children suffer and poverty rises. Families are counting on us to close the maternal wage gap.”

Key findings of the analysis include:

  • More than 2 in 5 mothers (42.2 percent) are employed in one of twelve occupations, and in every one of those occupations, mothers are paid between 52 cents and 85 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
  • The wage gap exists for mothers at every education level.
  • Among full-time, year-round workers, mothers with a high school degree make just 68 cents for every dollar paid to fathers with a high school degree.
  • Fathers who earn a master’s degree or a doctoral degree are typically paid $100,000 and $115,000 respectively. Conversely, mothers who complete these degrees are typically paid no more than $90,000 annually.
  • Asian/Pacific Islander mothers are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic fathers; white, non-Hispanic mothers are paid 69 cents; Black mothers, 54 cents; Native mothers, 49 cents; and Latina mothers, 46 cents. The wage gap persists for mothers of all ages

*Methods note: Figures are based on mothers’ and fathers’ median earnings for full time, year round workers. Mothers and fathers have at least one related child under 18 at home.


For immediate release:  May 23, 2018
Contact:  Maria Patrick ([email protected]) or Olympia Feil ([email protected])